Fellowship Openings

Designing a Strategic Marketing Function for Health Services

Project: Designing a Strategic Marketing Function for Health Services

Agency: Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS)

Location: Los Angeles County


The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) is the second largest municipal health system in the nation, serving a population of over 11 million County residents and tending to about 600,000 patients every year. It offers world-class care, operating four hospitals and a network of standalone clinics. As a “safety-net” health system, DHS has long served vulnerable populations, ensuring that individuals, regardless of their ability to pay, have access to high-quality health care. Now DHS, with an annual operating budget of $5.2 billion, seeks to become a provider of choice in Los Angeles County.

Historically, the DHS system has provided healthcare to a large population of uninsured and low-income patients, primarily entering the system following emergency room visits to hospitals throughout the County. The environment has shifted since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and its expansion of Medicaid in those states that agreed to expansion, including California, where it is known as Medi-Cal. Now, much of the DHS patient population has insurance, and the health system finds itself in competition with other hospitals. In response, it has established a goal to compete even more vigorously in the Los Angeles market and increase patient access to its services. To achieve this goal, DHS will need to communicate more effectively with current and prospective patients about the extent and exceptional quality of its offerings by undertaking a rebranding effort and implementing a strategic marketing function.

These efforts will take place internally and externally, initially focusing on establishing a unified brand identity and implementing it, then on building a strategic marketing function that will serve DHS going forward. To support this work, DHS will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive fellow for one year who will conduct extensive stakeholder engagement, help align stakeholder perspectives and resources, develop strategies for branding and marketing, institute an organizational structure to execute those strategies and work toward implementation. If successful, the fellow will play a crucial role in increasing awareness of the top-notch healthcare offered by DHS and enabling it to retain its newly insured patients as well as potentially attract and serve a greater number of new patients.


The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the fellow and the host agency.

Starting in September 2018, it is proposed that the FUSE Fellow will begin by meeting with DHS leadership and executives across DHS as well as with other key internal County and external stakeholders to gain an understanding of their viewpoints about DHS branding and preferred approaches to creating a cohesive marketing message. The fellow will also research other health systems’ marketing tactics and best practices and assist in identifying target populations and their needs.

Working closely with DHS executive management, the fellow will exercise superior communication skills to facilitate discussions among administrative and clinical stakeholders. The fellow must be respectful of the facilities’ individual identities, including the possible desire of some hospitals and health centers to maintain their own respective identity within the system. The fellow will utilize superb consensus-building skills to help all parties agree on a branding approach.

The fellow will then lead the rebranding effort and rely on marketing expertise to develop a media strategy and a detailed plan for implementing a strategic marketing function. The fellow will also help DHS create an organizational structure to execute the marketing function, assessing resources and determining how to leverage them, and move toward implementation. By helping to achieve an effective branding and marketing approach and ongoing marketing function, the fellow will assist DHS in making the County population more aware of, and drawn to, the high-quality services available to meet their needs.

  • Assess perspectives across DHS and conduct research — Meet with DHS executive management, clinical executives, and others to establish relationships and become familiar with individual objectives and opinions regarding rebranding. Facilitate discussions among them. Learn about other hospitals’ and health systems’ marketing functions and rebranding efforts as well as best practices. Research target populations and factors driving health care choices and consumption. Synthesize information and make recommendations to executive management.


  • Drive rebranding effort — Working close with executive management, lead efforts to coalesce around a more competitive brand identity and strategy that will raise and add positivity to the profile of DHS services and satisfy stakeholders at all facilities. Work to ensure buy-in. Lead rebranding process and formulation of components, including name, logo, signage, the DHS website, patient materials and style guide. Lead review and possible redesign of the website to align with strategic direction, priorities, and brand of DHS.


  • Create a plan for developing a strategic marketing function and proactive media strategy — Produce a detailed proposal for a unified, though potentially complex, DHS marketing function. Formulate a media strategy including proactive outreach, an expanded social media presence, and website components. Evaluate website’s impending adoption of Drupal 8 as an opportunity to catalyze new media strategy. Assess resources, including internally at DHS and from external sources such as the Los Angeles County Health Agency, Department of Public Health, Department of Mental Health, organized labor, and other key stakeholders. Explore creative approaches to funding. Identify barriers to change among stakeholders and DHS employees, and work to ease concerns and build momentum. Assist DHS management in determining organizational structure that will execute the marketing function.


  • Support initial implementation efforts — Take first steps in launching a marketing campaign. Work toward establishing ongoing marketing function within the organization, advising management on staffing, possible new hires and outside consultants, resource allocation, and mechanisms for supporting ongoing Department needs, such as grant applications and evaluative procedures. Ensure that stakeholders across the system remain invested in the process.



  • Christina Ghaly, M.D., Acting Director, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services
  • Gerardo J. Pinedo, Director of Strategic Operations, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services

Other key stakeholders include:

  • Donna Nagaoka, Director, Performance Improvement Director, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services
  • Shari Doi, Director, Office of Patient Access, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services
  • Michael Owens, M.D., Director, Managed Care Services, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services
  • Nina Park, M.D., Director, Ambulatory Care Network, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services
  • Michael Wilson, Director of Communications and Media Relations, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services


  • At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a strong background in marketing, branding, public relations, communications and/or management consulting. Experience in a healthcare setting beneficial.
  • Experience developing websites using Drupal 8 and/or comparable platforms as well as social media tools, etc.
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
  • Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations.
  • Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
  • Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder activities.
  • Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker.
  • Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems.
  • Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous environments.
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations.
  • Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.