Cook County Health (CCH) provides a wide range of health care services without regard to a patient’s ability to pay. The System operates the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, a tertiary, acute care hospital and Provident Hospital of Cook County, a community acute care hospital. The System also operates a network of community health centers offering primary and specialty care and diagnostic services; the Cook County Department of Public Health (“CCDPH”), the certified local public health department serving most of suburban Cook County; Cermak Health Services of Cook County, serving the Cook County Jail and the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center; the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center, a comprehensive care center for care of HIV and other infectious diseases. CCH also operates CountyCare, the largest Medicaid managed care plan in Cook County as well as a new Medicare product, MoreCare, a partnership with external parties. CCH has continued growth plans for its insurance products.

CCH’s history and mission to care for all, regardless of the ability to pay dates back to 1835. In that time, we have cared for millions of people, trained thousands of doctors and conducted important research that has contributed to modern day practices in hospitals. We have centers of excellence in trauma, burn and emergency care, oncology, endocrinology, infectious disease and others. We have long been the safety net to the safety net when it comes to caring for the uninsured, a mission that remains today despite operating in a post-Affordable Care Act (ACA) environment.

Today, CCH is one of largest integrated public health system in the United States with a budget approaching $4B. Through our health care delivery system and health plans, CCH serves more than 500,000 individuals. We operate and one of the busiest trauma centers in the country and are the largest provider of HIV care in the Midwest and one of the largest in the nation. On an average day, we fill nearly 20 times as many outpatient prescriptions than the average commercial pharmacy. Through our correctional health services, we provide comprehensive health services to all detainees at Cook County Jail and the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. The Cook County Department of Public Health is the state and nationally certified public health authority serving the majority of suburban Cook County. 

CCH is where medical students want to train. It is not uncommon to receive more than 1,000 applications for just 15 or 16 residency slots in any number of our programs from emergency medicine to family medicine.

Significant research conducted at CCH continues to change the face of medicine throughout the nation. In the 1890’s we were talking about new procedures related to germ theory. A century later, we pioneered the daily antiseptic bathing of ICU patients. Today, more than 30% of the hospitals in the United States use our approach for infection control in their ICUs. CCH conducted dozens of clinical trials or research initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic, many that led to life-saving treatments and vaccines. 

Working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we pioneered the use of rapid HIV testing wherein results are given to the patient at the same visit. Our findings, coupled with confirmatory studies elsewhere, led to a major change in CDC’s national recommendations about HIV testing. Today, our HIV protocols and practices serve as models for other health systems across the country.

CCH holds many of the same certifications and distinctions as other hospitals – Joint Commission accreditation and certifications in many areas as well as specialized certifications in areas like stroke, burn and oncology. In 2021, CCH’s flagship hospital earned four coveted US News & World Report recognitions in COPD, Heart Attack, Heart Failure and Pneumonia.

CCH is in the midst of a transformation that embraces the changing health care environment in the U.S. We have spent the last several years shifting our focus from sick care to health care and as a result placing increased emphasis on primary and preventive care with an eye toward the full integration of all ambulatory services to ensure we are being patient-centric in the delivery of care. We have bold visions for the transformation of Provident Hospital that includes the construction of a new state-approved hospital in the coming years. Our work in correctional health, particularly efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID, continue to serve as a national model while our public health department will see increased funding to strengthen its infrastructure for future public health crises. As the only provider-led plan in the market, CountyCare continues to lead the market in quality and member satisfaction implementing meaningful strategies that improve health outcomes. And we are doing all of this while remaining true to our mission to care for all.

In 2013, CCH launched CountyCare, a demonstration project through a federal 1115 Waiver granted to the state Medicaid agency to enroll eligible low income Cook County adults (ACA adults) into a Medicaid managed care program. In July 2014, CountyCare transitioned from the federal Waiver authority and subsequently became a Medicaid managed care plan allowing for the expansion of CountyCare to include traditional Medicaid populations in Family Health Plans (FHP) and Seniors and Persons with Disabilities (SPD). CCH receives a capitated rate for every member enrolled in CountyCare. Many of the members we have enrolled have long been our patients and classified in our uncompensated care bucket. The ACA, through CountyCare, has significantly reduced CCH’s reliance on local taxpayers. 

CountyCare currently has more than 400,000 members and stands as the largest Medicaid managed care plan in Cook County despite competition with larger and more resourced brands.

Outreach and marketing has focused on driving new membership and retention. The marketing strategy has evolved over time, maturing with the brand. The goal is to keep the plan in-market year-round while focusing heavily on the choice period.

Network of contracted providers. CountyCare operates like a traditional managed care health plan contracting with a network of providers and reimbursing them for services provided to members. The network of contracted providers currently includes more than 4,500 primary care providers, 20,000 specialists, more than 70 hospitals and a considerable network for behavioral health and other services. For many of these contracted network providers, CountyCare has been a welcome source of revenue for care provided to previously uninsured populations. By building a partnership with Federally Qualified Health Centers, CountyCare has emphasized member access to preventive and primary care, a strategy that continues to be supported by CCH’s strategic plan.


CCH seeks a Proposer who will take the health system’s maturing marketing strategies to the next level. The selected Proposer will develop an integrated marketing strategy designed to:

• Brand and grow service new and existing lines as well as patient volumes

• Support IMPACT 2023, CCH’s current strategic plan 

• Market and brand CCH insurance products, special projects or other initiatives designed to meet CCH’s mission or strategy

• Be nimble and flexible to adapt to changes in the health care landscape and CCH priorities • Promote the visibility, civic image and position of CCH

• Leverage the work of the past several years to improve the CCH brand within both the patient population and the provider community as well as the larger public

• Promote CCH as a provider of care, both within the CountyCare managed care plan and to non-CountyCare members

• Support CCH internal culture regarding the CCH position, strategy and values

Scope of Work

The Proposer must come to this assignment already prepared with an understanding of the health care market dynamics in Cook County, both from a provider and plan perspective, including the competitive pressures and opportunities that exist. The Proposer must possess a solid understanding of CCH, its mission, goals and strategies, its customers and employees as well as the Medicaid and Medicare market in Cook County and HFS and CMS marketing guidelines.

The Proposer must come to this assignment already prepared with an understanding of the health care market dynamics in Cook County, both from a provider and plan perspective, including the competitive pressures and opportunities that exist. The Proposer must possess a solid understanding of CCH, its mission, goals and strategies, its customers and employees as well as the Medicaid and Medicare market in Cook County and HFS and CMS marketing guidelines.

The Proposer is expected to offer cost-effective, collaborative solutions, understanding that CCH is a government entity with limited resources, and demonstrate a commitment to meeting contractual MBE/WBE expectations.

A. Term of Services CCHPS intends to award one multi-year contract, which is anticipated for thirty-six (36) months with an additional two (2) one year extension options.

B. Basis of Award The basis of award shall be to a single Proposers based on the highest rated Proposal offering the best value to CCH meeting the specifications, terms, and conditions in accordance with the evaluation criteria set forth in this RFP.

CCH seeks a marketing and communications contractor to provide a broad spectrum of high quality, flexible, dependable, consistent and timely marketing services, including planning, research, branding, advertising, positioning, communication and promotion services as well as design, launch and implementation of recommended campaign(s). The Proposer will be expected to partner with CCH leadership and staff to deliver these marketing services in compliance state and federal marketing guidelines and requirements. These services will include, but not be limited to the following.

Planning and marketing strategy 

The marketing strategy should center around tactics intended to address a number of strategic objectives:

1. Branding and marketing of CCH products and service lines;

2. Increasing CCH patient volumes; 

3. Increasing market share of CountyCare and other insurance products.

4. Positioning and reputation building for CCH including managing CCH and CountyCare websites;

5. Support for CCH Internal and External Priorities. This general priority is intended to ensure that the Proposer understands that CCH will request assistance to support major internal projects and priorities not specifically defined in this document but within its scope. For example, CCH will likely need support in the coming contract to execute a patient experience campaign at one or more of its facilities. The plan should include suggested modalities and a general approach for each strategy, with specific detail with regard to goals, metrics, resources, timeframes and responsible parties. The plan should describe recommended ways to sustain the effort and its impact beyond the contract period.


To accomplish its scope of work, the Proposer must collaborate with CCH staff to conduct research that informs and evaluates the marketing strategy both in the short- and long-term. The Proposer may augment staff-led research and analysis efforts as needed to understand the demands and preferences of potential market segments. Research tactics may include market analysis, focus group interviews and analysis, and assessment of consumer preferences by segment depending on the needs of the project. In collaboration with staff efforts, the Proposer’s research should inform the marketing strategy by staying attuned to new market segments, trends or targets. The Proposer may be called upon to collaborate with CCH staff to assess potential market share opportunities, and to assess the size and location of specific market segments. The Proposer will have access to all research previously conducted.

Each initiative presented by the Proposer must be accompanied by goals and metrics and the source of information that will be used to assess progress toward meeting the metrics.

Branding/Reputational Positioning 

Over its decades as an essential institution serving Cook County, CCH has accumulated a strong missionrelated set of associations shared by its physicians, employees, trainees, labor, elected officials and various community constituencies.

The marketing plan must include a strategy for continuing to improve CCH’s position as a community asset with a dynamic agenda critical to the health of the County.

The Proposer should suggest ways in which its knowledge of civic events and opportunities, as well as key relationships, can be leveraged to advance the CCH position during the course of the marketing engagement. The Proposer should also look toward ways that CCH can build a reputation nationally as well as locally. This may include not only traditional marketing, but also earned media, digital media, events, and crisis communications.

The CCH branding/reputational positioning process must convey messages that are culturally appropriate, respectful and reflective of the various communities within Cook County including racial and ethnic groups that experience health inequities. In areas where the CCH image requires strengthening, the branding/reputational positioning process offers a highly important opportunity to bring new associations to those generated both informally and intentionally over several decades. The efforts accomplished through the marketing contract are expected to be foundational for years to come.


CountyCare has been effectively promoted through grassroots and marketing efforts since 2013. Its brand recognition is considerably higher today than it was in 2013, but the pandemic has introduced an entirely new population to CountyCare requiring us to direct resources in three general areas of focus: brand awareness, recruitment of new members, and retention of existing members. As CCH introduces additional insurance products, effective marketing strategies will be required to differentiate products, recruit new members, and support existing members to remain within a CCH plan as their eligibility status changes. Each initiative presented by the Proposer must be accompanied by goals and metrics and the source of information that will be used to assess progress toward meeting the metrics.


CCH has made significant improvements in the delivery of care in recent years. Following recent campaigns, Look At Us Now and Making an Impact, the Proposer is expected to recommend a marketing campaign designed to improve the perception and reputation of CCH as a provider of health care. CCH seeks to be the preeminent public health system in the United States, delivering its patients with the highest quality health care. The Proposer should address how they will leverage the health system’s current publicly recognized strengths and its commitment to health equity while balancing the need to attract insured patients to ensure adequate funding for those uninsured or underinsured. The Proposer is expected to recommend a marketing campaign, consistent with current efforts that will succeed in building and retaining membership in CountyCare as well as increasing brand awareness among new populations eligible for Medicaid due to the pandemic. The campaign will be multifaceted, community-oriented, and feature positive, aspirational, innovative messaging to secure the interest of eligible individuals in CountyCare. It must feature messaging that is most likely to build an enduring brand image and provide information that addresses the key interests and questions of segmented market audiences.

Collaboration with Grassroots

Outreach, Communications and Media CCH contracts with grassroots outreach firms to promote CCH, its products and services. The Proposer will be expected to work collaboratively with the outreach team to develop, produce, print and deliver collateral materials to support outreach efforts. Services in this area may range from fulfilling orders for health fair materials to providing mail house services. Furthermore, the timing and content of advertising is expected to be coordinated closely with outreach, communications, and media efforts for maximum impact. From time to time, CCH may request assistance from the Proposer with earned media or crisis communications efforts. Each initiative presented by the Proposer must be accompanied by goals and metrics and the source of information that will be used to assess progress toward meeting the metrics.

Internal Branding, Collateral and Campaigns

The Proposer may be asked to assist in shaping consistent standards and formats for communication. While the focus for this RFP is on CCH and its component products and services, the Proposer may be requested to address ways to strengthen internal organization-wide commitment to the key strategies and goals facing the organization. A systematically branded approach to employee communications will increase the success of the externally focused marketing goals.

VENDOR QUESTIONS DUE DATE: January 7, 2022, by 2:00 P.M. CT.

RESPONSE/ PROPOSAL DUE DATE: January 26, 2022, by 2:00 P.M. CT.

Responses to this RFP shall be delivered after 8:00 AM (CT) but no later than 2:00 PM (CT) to:

Cook County Health C/O John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital

1969 West Ogden Ave., Lower-Level Room # 250A

Chicago, IL 60612

Attention: Supply Chain Management Department

Edelman Pr and MWWPR are agencies to consider. 

You may also like...