I say it all the time — a healthy brand just keeps on giving, adding value way beyond a cool logo or tagline or website. A great example of this popped up just a few days ago.
Healthy Brand in Testimony
I listened to Marvin Ventrell, Executive Director of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP), and others offer their expert testimony during the Congressional Hearing on Treatment Ethics.
Treatment ethics and evidence-based practices have been hot topics lately, especially after John Oliver’s take on the addiction rehab industry. It’s an overview piece that questions addiction treatment standards and practices, among other things. And that’s a lot of what was discussed at the congressional hearings.
Among the many brilliant exchanges, one stood out for me. It was during questioning that had to do with patient brokering. That’s when call aggregators/referral centers field calls from people in need of help and forward those calls to specific treatment centers. These calls, potentially worth tens of thousands of dollars each, are often directed based on how much a treatment center pays that call center. In these cases, the referral has little to do with treatment quality, data, specialties, experience, or evidence. Just money. And the call center takes a cut.
I’m no expert in addiction treatment. But I’ve spent lots of time with people who are experts, and a lot of people who have benefitted from treatment and recovery. So I know there are many, many honorable, ethical, and effective organizations out there. Marvin Ventrell leads one of them.
I do know that almost nothing about addiction treatment is easy, for the clinics, the counselors, the patients, or their families. It would be a terrible setback for millions of people if the addiction treatment industry becomes branded as frauds, or untrustworthy, or ineffective.
Healthy Brand in Action
Anyway, I was struck when Mark Mishek, President and CEO, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, said (and I paraphrase) that Hazelden Betty Ford doesn’t use any call center or referral services. They don’t need to, and I know why — their healthy brand.
Yes, a healthy brand adds value, like not needing to rely on outside vendors for phone calls. Hazelden runs its own call center. People know when they call that number, they are speaking to a Hazelden Betty Ford representative, trained to help. They handle around 1,400 calls a week. That’s incredible, and is a sign of the epidemic we all face right now. But it’s how they handle their calls that makes the difference. (Read his witness statement here, it’s enlightening.)
The Hazelden brand has been around since 1949. But it’s how they have strengthened their brand through the years that makes this kind of industry autonomy possible. It may be a simple thing, but ethical credibility adds up.
That’s just what’s on my mind. I hope with all my heart that organizations like NAATP and Hazelden Betty Ford keep doing what they’re doing, leveraging their healthy brands to help addicted people find the evidence-based, ethical, effective help they so desperately need.