With more “major players” in healthcare than ever before thanks to massive consolidation within our industry, there are big numbers, strategies and stories behind these big brands. On an annual basis, Brand Finance assesses and ranks thousands of companies worldwide to evaluate their prominence in the market, revenue growth and overall brand strength. Given Activate Health works with a variety of healthcare organizations—from specialty pharmacy to health technology—we’re tuned in to what these top healthcare brands are doing right.

Below, we’ve compiled profiles on some of these organizations, highlighting their accomplishments, market moves and what makes them stand out from other healthcare players in the mix.

As the nation’s largest insurer, UnitedHealthcare (UHC) serves millions of people with the goals of improving patient health and creating a healthcare system that works better for everyone. It offers health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid members, contracting with over 1.3 million care professionals and 6,500 care facilities across the US. According to Brand Finance, the organization has won the title of fastest-growing brand in its sector, with a rising value of 64 percent over the last year equating to $30.6 billion.

UHC achieved this ranking among other top healthcare brands as a result of financial standing, high-profile activities within the organization and its expansion of commercial group health insurance plans across the nation. 

Optum represents the health services division of UnitedHealth Group, comprised of three business segments: OptumHealth, OptumInsight and OptumRx. Their pharmacy care services are perhaps the most well-known—OptumRx is more than just a PBM, processing 1.3 billion prescriptions annually through its retail, mail and specialty pharmacy combined. With a focus on technology-enabled health solutions for payers, OptumHealth and OptumInsight provide population health management and healthcare analytics, respectively. The health services giant has also made several major acquisitions in recent years that have contributed to its growth, including MedExpress, Surgical Care Affiliates, DaVita, Catamaran and the Advisory Board’s healthcare arm.

Based on brand recognition alone, Optum serves a combined 65 million individuals across its various business segments. And for full-year revenue in 2019, Optum posted $113 billion, with 25.6 percent year-over-year growth. Optum’s success in recent years has been bolstered by its emphasis on vertical integration, with a move to combine pharmacy and care delivery services that has secured the company’s competitive advantage and financial growth within the PBM space.

One of the largest medical insurance providers, Aetna offers a variety of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed insurance and services like Medicaid care management, among others. The company’s mission is to make it easier for people to live healthier lives, providing tools like the Aetna Mobile App to help consumers access health information, compare costs and take control of their care. Aetna saw 15.6 percent growth since last year, with $10.8 billion in revenue in 2019.

A large rebranding effort has also increased Aetna’s success. The new tagline, “You don’t join us. We join you.” represents how the organization is stepping up to better meet its customers’ needs—ranging from individuals and healthcare providers to employers, government-sponsored plans and even labor unions—and help them achieve their health goals as one of our industry’s top healthcare brands.

Humana, one of the top five health insurance companies in the US, positions itself as a health and well-being company that integrates care delivery, the customer experience and clinical and consumer insights to improve the wellness of its members. With a strong focus on the individuals they serve that carries through much of the company’s messaging, products and services, it’s no surprise that it earned the payer recognition by Newsweek in 2019 for the best customer service among health insurers.

While consolidation in healthcare continues at a rapid pace, Aetna’s attempted buyout of Humana was blocked in 2017—nevertheless, Humana has continued to grow as a brand. The company strives to reduce complexity within the healthcare system by partnering with business and physician leaders across the nation. And their “Bold Goal” of helping the communities they serve be 20 percent healthier underscores another brand value of supporting members to achieve their best health.

Medtronic is one of the largest medical technology, services and solutions companies, working with physicians, hospitals and patients in more than 150 countries. The company’s overarching goal is to contribute to human welfare by offering products and services that reduce pain, improve health and prolong life. Medtronic turns an impressive monthly revenue of $2.5 billion, with patients utilizing its therapies and devices every two seconds.

The brand’s story and mission statement continue to be an asset in driving growth, inspiring innovation with a moral purpose and an entrepreneurial approach to healthcare change. With its new slogan, “Going Further, Together.”, Medtronic has earned its place on this list among other top healthcare brands with its use of innovation to expand the organization’s vision and affect change in the healthcare system.

HCA Healthcare
Comprised of 184 hospitals and 2,000 sites of care, including surgery centers, ERs, urgent cares and physician clinics, HCA Healthcare is a big player in the health system arena. Its unique model for hospital care that uses combined resources to make hospitals more effective and efficient, allow for patient-centered care and improve medicine sets HCA apart from other US health service providers. HCA Healthcare’s mission is to improve care and human life, engaging in a healthcare system that is constantly evolving and becoming more patient-focused.

This emphasis on transforming healthcare appears to be paying off, as the company reported a same-facility revenue growth of 6.2 percent, $46.7 billion in sales and $39.6 billion in market value.

Centene is a multinational healthcare company that takes a local approach to providing patients with integrated, high-quality and low-cost care. Centene serves one in 15 individuals across the nation, focusing on those who are underinsured or uninsured. The company aims to help people live healthier lives through a range of health solutions, including tools that allow people with disabilities to live independently. Centene has achieved significant growth under the Affordable Care Act, adding 1.8 million additional members to its platform (up from 15 percent in 2017). Its annual revenue increased 24 percent to $60.1 billion.

As a brand, Centene has continued to flourish in offbeat healthcare market sectors where other companies have failed. While many insurers have reduced or exited Obamacare markets, Centene has developed specific benefit plans and go-to-market strategies that create opportunities in these areas. Further growth may be on the horizon, as it plans to become more involved in government-associated plans with its acquisition of WellCare, which would bring in more than $100 billion in revenue.

Cardinal Health
With an impressive market presence, Cardinal Health serves nearly 90 percent of US hospitals and ranks in the top 25 on the Fortune 500. Despite an increasingly competitive environment due to more sales of high-cost drugs, the multinational healthcare services company saw $136.8 billion in revenue and reported a 5.3 percent increase in sales growth in 2018. Cardinal Health provides integrated services and products including customized solutions for hospitals, healthcare systems, pharmacies, ambulatory surgery centers, clinical laboratories and physician offices. Garnering national attention, Cardinal Health developed Generation Rx, a drug prevention program, in direct response to the US opioid epidemic. Overall, the health system aims to reduce unnecessary healthcare costs and develop a deep understanding of the customer experience.

Cardinal Health secured a spot on the list of most valuable healthcare brands as a result of strong revenue gains and contract wins. A $2.25 billion contract with the Pentagon to provide worldwide ordering and distribution of surgical supplies has positioned the company for future growth.

Stryker is a leading medical technology company that, like many other top healthcare brands on this list, strives to make the industry better. Its product offerings include surgical implants, medical devices, surgical instruments and other medical equipment, as well as medical device reprocessing services. Serving doctors, hospitals and other healthcare facilities, Stryker’s business specializes in clinical areas like orthopedics, surgical, neurotechnology and spine to help improve patient health. With international presence and a sales force bolstered by subsidiaries and sub-branches of the parent company, Stryker boasts $13.6 billion in sales across 100 different countries, with a market cap of $67.3 billion.

Several acquisitions have brought recent growth for Stryker, and the company has received recognition for its sustainability efforts and employee volunteerism. In addition, it has also been named one of the “World’s Most Admired Companies” by FORTUNE in the medical products and equipment industry.

Quest Diagnostics
One of the best-known diagnostic testing service providers, Quest Diagnostics, is a top provider of laboratory services and a household name for anyone who’s received routine (or specialized) healthcare testing. The company’s mission is well-aligned with its work in the industry: to encourage better healthcare decisions and find cures for chronic diseases.

Following a recent rebrand, the organization’s new logo delivers on the core idea that Quest Diagnostics is about more than just test results—it also empowers action. In addition to being ranked as one of the top healthcare brands, Quest was also selected as one of FORTUNE’s World’s Most Admired Companies in 2020 for the sixth consecutive year, positioning it for further growth in the years to come.

If your organization is looking to dive deeper into what makes a brand one of the best, a strategic healthcare marketing firm can guide you through these analyses and other insights. In a growing industry with companies consistently looking to improve care, costs and make the system work better for patients, providers and payers alike, it’s helpful to partner with an agency who knows what resonates with this wide variety of healthcare stakeholders. Reach out to the team at Activate Health to start the conversation about raising your organization to the level of these top healthcare brands today.