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We Cringe When Hospital “CMO” Means “Chief Marketing Officer”

Summary: Big academic hospitals like Harvard’s Mass General Brigham now mount huge marketing efforts, similar to those of consumer products corporations. The message is clear: big academic hospitals are big business. Many health care providers wince.

Mark Bohen, Chief Marketing Officer
Hired September 2020
Mass General Brigham
Website accessed Nov 15, 2021

Mark Bohen, MBA is the Chief Marketing Officer for Mass General Brigham. He is responsible for building and leading a world class marketing and communications organization and ensuring that people in the nation and around the globe know about the world class research, clinical care, innovations and education taking place throughout the Mass General Brigham system. Mark is also bringing classical marketing principles, science, and discipline to the organization. In addition, Mark is leading all marketing and communication functions, including brand management, data analytics, consumer research and insights, digital/social, service line and hospital marketing, marketing strategy, and internal and external system-wide communications.   

Prior to joining Mass General Brigham in September 2020, Mark spent the previous four years at Beaumont Health, the largest health system in Michigan, where he led all marketing and communications strategies and tactics. While at Beaumont, Mark built and developed new marketing capabilities for better patient outreach while also focused on continued enhancement of Beaumont’s reputation and position in the state’s competitive health care marketplace. He also brought together three legacy marketing and communication departments and created system capabilities and roles that offered his team exciting growth opportunities. Mark led brand management at Beaumont after the merger of three health systems and built a new brand architecture. He has partnered with hospital, physician, and service line leaders to create marketing plans that drive growth.

Previously, Mark was the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Innovation at Assurant, Inc., and he spent more than ten years in the consumer-packaged goods industry, including time at Nabisco where he worked on some of the world’s best-known brands like Oreos and Ritz crackers. Mark earned his BS degree in Marketing from Syracuse University and his MBA from Duke University.

Comment by: David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler

Partners Health Care, the amalgamation of Boston’s Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals – “non-profits” that are major teaching hospitals for Harvard Medical School – recently spent $100 million rebranding itself as “Mass General Brigham”.  Meanwhile, in the past 9 months the system’s two banner hospitals had “surpluses” (AKA profits) of $223 million (Brigham) and $147 million (Mass General).  

We doubt that the hospitals’ patients or communities would see rebranding or marketing as priorities. But this otherwise grim story has a humorous twist. Toward the end of the CMO’s bio we learn of his previous experience marketing Ritz Crackers and Oreos.  

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