Patient Experience Marketing

Maximize Medical Reviews to Market Your Hospital

Online Reviews to Market Your HospitalWhen it comes to healthcare, patients are consumers, just like with any other industry. Consumers like to share reviews on how their experiences went with a provider, and healthcare is no different.

In a day and age where the average adult spends over 20 hours a week online, with 28% of that time on social media sites, it’s impossible to ignore the potential of internet marketing and management.

It’s imperative to understand the clout of online patient reviews.

One in four new patients report having chosen a physician based on a website reviews. Furthermore, the power of influence is growing, with some insurance companies even linking patients back to these sites. While posts on medical review sites (such as Healthgrades, Yelp, Vitals, etc.) are anonymous, there are tactics that can be used to elevate the good and combat the bad, overall boosting a hospital’s online reputation.

 

Visibility

With around 80% of customers searching the Internet for information on doctors, it’s important your healthcare facility is visible on all of the most important medical review sites.

Studies have shown that Healthgrades® is the most searched medical review site, with Yelp following close behind. Placing your hospital on these sites gives consumers an enormous amount of confidence in the brand. It is greatly advised that you do not discourage patients from critique with tactics such as a contractual agreement that prohibits a patient from public reviews. Many hospitals and practices have such tactics in place and are building a relationship of mistrust, suspicion, and hostility.

That being said, too much visibility can negatively affect your online reputation just as easily. Be sure to have a policy in place that advises all of your staff to have private social media accounts for socializing, and public/professional accounts for engaging in medical groups and gaining public trust.

 

Request

Positioning yourself online, in any platform, makes your hospital open to extreme criticism. There are a few tactics one can take to encourage positive reviews and dissuade the bad from emerging.

As each new generation enters the age where they are seeking health care without parental supervision, the Internet savvy of hospital consumers increases. Newer patients searching for online medical reviews can tell the difference between an authentic and fake review. When requesting reviews, ask your patients directly. Do not rely on family and friends to boost your positive feedback. Advise physicians to ask their patients they have a strong relationship with to take a moment to review their work and the hospital. Not all patients will oblige, but some will.

Another tactic to generate positive commentary is to give surveys to recurring patients while they wait for their scheduled appointment. Linking to an online review site at the end of a survey could generate traffic. You can also link to review sites through a follow-up email. Think of your follow-up emails as a medical thank you card. Kindness goes a long way with patients, and sending a thank you card encourages a strong bedside manner.

Want to discourage consumers from ranting and raving their negative experiences online for the world to see? Presenting complaint cards to patients provides the consumer a chance to get their anger out before going public, declining the likelihood of taking it online.

 

Reply

Once placed on any medical review website, commentary on your services (good and bad) will begin to appear. It’s important to do a consistent scan of these sites for new reviews. It is highly likely that more than a few patients will be disappointed in the outcome of their treatment and say so online.

Respond to these reviews in a timely and conscientious manner. With a proper response, other patients may even come to your defense. Acknowledge the person’s complaint, show a commitment to improving your service, and encourage the distressed patient to contact you directly in order to discuss their complaint and come to a resolution.

Utilize the power of medical review websites! Not only do they encourage more patients to use your healthcare facilityl, with enough positive reviews, you can boost your credibility with Google and receive a higher ranking on search engine results!

Want to learn more tips to market your hospital online? Check out this blog for more information!

Need help marketing your healthcare facility? Contact Jimmy Warren today.


ABOUT JIMMY WARREN
Early to bed, early to rise, work like crazy and advertise! Jimmy Warren is president of TotalCom Marketing Communications and has over 30 years experience helping all kinds of businesses build a strong brand. A large portion of that experience has been helping hospitals and healthcare organizations. He loves the ‘weird’, interesting and extremely talented people he gets to work with every day – that includes co-workers and clients. Outside of work he enjoys his grand kids, traveling and any kind of good ole fashion Alabama sports. Roll Tide!

Healthcare Marketing: Connect with Emotion

Emotional Connections Healthcare Marketing Totalcom

In healthcare marketing we have to walk the line between expertise and emotion. People will be drawn to your facility for your expertise, reputation, outcomes, physicians, and technology, but those alone are not enough to convince them to choose your hospital.

Ones health is very personal and patients choose healthcare facilities because they trust them and connect with them – on an emotional level.

So promote your technology, new services, and procedures, but do so in a way that connects with your audience.

Branding Builds Familiarity and Loyalty

One way to connect with future patients on an emotional level is through a strong branding strategy. Effective branding relies on consistency. Your logo, colors, tone and message should always remain the same regardless of the platform you are using.

If a consumer is familiar with your TV ads, they should have no trouble recognizing your outdoor or paid ads on Facebook.

Marketing your hospital across multiple media outlets helps build a stronger brand. If your TV and radio ads are combined with a good social media presence and outdoor, people will become more familiar with your facility than if you just focus on one medium alone. It takes several touch points before consumers make a decision – they need to see you and know you before they choose you.

Tell Stories

Consumers connect emotionally when you tell your story. Patient testimonials are great because they involve a real person telling their real patient experience at your facility.

Prospective patients can relate to the condition, the apprehension, and the suffering and yearn for the same positive outcome.

Patient stories can of course be told through traditional media. But, blogging and online videos can also be very effective for relaying a patient’s experience. Having both video and audio and little more time than is available in a television commercial, makes video testimonials especially powerful.

Another way to tell your story is from the perspective of the physician. For instance, if someone is searching online for solutions to their back pain and they find a video of your physician explaining a new procedure done at your hospital, they can begin building that bond of trust before ever meeting the doctor in person! Video makes doctors human, takes away some of the anxiety and makes the prospective patient confident in the expertise of the physician and the facility.

Encourage Social Media Engagement

People are more likely to connect with your hospital emotionally when they see others have that connection. That is why it is so important to encourage your patients to engage on social media. There are several ways to do this.

One idea is the use of a specified hashtag. Brookwood Medical Center in Birmingham, AL has had great success with this strategy. In their #ichooseb campaign they urge patients to use the hashtag and then give the reason they chose that particular hospital.

As a result of this tactic, you see a ton of posts on social media where patients are telling others all the great things about Brookwood Medical Center. Not only is this free advertising, but it also gives people who may not have had any experience with that facility an immediate emotional connection. People think, ”If my friend Lisa chose Brookwood, then maybe I need to go there as well!”

When you do experience social media engagement, make sure to nurture it by responding. You build that emotional connection when you respond to someone’s social media post because it shows to that patient and their friends that you care about what they have to say.

 

If you need help connecting with your target audience on a more personal, emotional level, contact Jimmy Warren today!


ABOUT JIMMY WARREN
Early to bed, early to rise, work like crazy and advertise! Jimmy Warren is president of TotalCom Marketing Communications and has over 30 years experience helping all kinds of businesses build a strong brand. A large portion of that experience has been helping hospitals and healthcare organizations. He loves the ‘weird’, interesting and extremely talented people he gets to work with every day – that includes co-workers and clients. Outside of work he enjoys his grand kids, traveling and any kind of good ole fashion Alabama sports. Roll Tide!

 

Healthcare Marketing: 4 Strategies for Improving Patient Experience

Marketing must take the lead in patient experience.

Marianne Aiello recently wrote an article for Health Leaders Media about how to improve patient experience.  Aiello makes some excellent points.  The article is republished here in its entirety.

Picture this. One day while watching TV you see an engaging hospital commercial, depicting smiling providers who whisk a patient through the continuum of care. The end of the spot directs you to a website, which has a fresh design and smartly describes the organization’s many service lines and resources.

A few weeks down the line you need to schedule an elective procedure, and, based on your positive memories of the ad and website, you choose this hospital. But upon arrival, the parking lot is confusing. When you finally stumble across the waiting room, the desk worker passes you some forms to fill out without raising his head. Your procedure goes well, but afterward it’s unclear how to schedule a follow-up.

Unfortunately, scenarios like this one happen all too often at well-meaning hospitals. Often the problem lies in the marketing department’s detachment from operations, which—like it or not—controls the patient experience.

For the marketing chief to be considered a key leader within the hospital hierarchy, marketers must bridge this gap and take full responsibility for the patient experience.

1. Align promise with experience.

The positive hospital ad/negative hospital experience described above showcases the hypothetical organization’s inability to align its brand promise with its brand experience.

“No longer can healthcare organizations be a lot better in their ads than they are in reality,” Gary Adamson, chief experience officer of Starizon told the April issue of Healthcare Marketing Advisor. “There is too much consumer information and power for that approach to be viable any longer. The marketing department must become responsible for the melding of the promise and the experience into a powerful and fully differentiated brand.”

In order to merge the promise and the experience into a differentiated brand, Adamson suggests thinking of the two as overlapping circles. It is ultimately the marketing department’s duty to not only make the area of intersection larger, but to eventually create concentric circles.

To do this, marketers must integrate operations and communications.

“By working with cross-functional teams, marketers can help organizations keep a finger on their patients’ pulse and develop communication materials that heal and strengthen relationships,” Tom DeSanto, principal, Tom DeSanto Strategy and Communications, told HMA. “It’s like multispecialty care for the patient experience.”

2. Start with first point of contact.

Naturally, aligning the brand promise with its experience is a daunting task. A good way to start is to focus on the patient’s first physical point of contact with your organization. The patient’s perception of your parking lot, lobby, and front-line desk staff make a lasting impression on their overall experience. This is why many organizations choose to employ valets and greeters; to construct warm, spacious entryways; and to extensively train staff in customer service.

“Marketers should consider all of the variables that will impact the patients’ and their families’ or visitors’ impression of the building and the people inside,” Shari Short, research director and strategist for Aloysius Butler & Clark, told HMA. “For example, if the parking lot feels unsafe or if the elevators are broken or too slow, consumers note these factors as part of their experience.”

Once the patient enters the treatment phase of their visit, clinical care takes precedence. But there is always room to craft a positive patient experience.

“For many healthcare workers, the patient experience is about clinical health outcomes, but for the healthcare consumer, it is about the levels of comfort and customer satisfaction that determine whether it is a positive patient experience,” Short says. “Marketers need to be present and involved in designing the patient experience from parking, to driving away after discharge, to keep the voice of the healthcare consumer in the conversation.”

3. Improve staff communication.

Staff attitudes, from disengaged desk workers to pressed-for-time caregivers, has a profound impact on the patient experience. The first step toward correcting any unsavory behaviors is education. Many staff may not realize that the way they are acting has such an impact on the patient’s satisfaction and perception of their care.

You can “inspire frontline patient care staff through simple, ongoing quality and satisfaction communications that praise their efforts and challenge them to improve,” DeSanto said. Also, “develop simple training and motivational materials to help improve performance in areas that have low satisfaction ratings.”

Furthermore, it’s important to report individual successes and overall progress in improving the patient experience to staff members, as well as patients and the hospital community.

4. Improve the patient experience.

Providing patients with friendly, uncomplicated, and practical information about what to expect from their hospital stay will help the patients feel more at ease even before they step foot in your facility.

This virtual or paper first point of contact can be just as important in making a positive impression as the physical first point of contact.

It’s also important to “examine and improve all aspects of communications with patients from initial contact with the physician referral line through episodes of care to interactions around insurance and billing,” DeStanto says.

Much like how the patient experience can begin before the patient enters the hospital grounds, it can continue long after the patient leaves.

In order to stay competitive in today’s healthcare environment, marketers must be responsible for much more than advertising and public relations. Not only must marketers communicate the brand, they must create and sustain the brand.

“If marketing is ever to evolve into the important strategic discipline in healthcare that it is in other industries, then the marketing department must take the lead role in orchestrating the patient experience,” Adamson says.

“For those marketers who choose not to leap across this chasm with excitement, however, they will be dooming themselves and the departments they lead to more of the same frustration that has been vocalized since the advent of healthcare marketing.”

Healthcare Marketing: Decisions without Considering Consumer Costly

Recent snafus prove that we should think from the consumer’s perspective.  And not about what’s best for our organization’s operations.

Recently Facebook made changes to its social network’s interface.  This was closely on the heels of earlier changes that Facebook users weren’t even used to yet.  And users were not happy.  Then Netflix customers who were already unhappy with a price increase were then angered more when the company announced it was separating its streaming video offering from its video rental business to create a new company.

Two very successful corporations who had great loyalty and good will but unilaterally made decisions, which were good operationally without considering the impact on consumers.  It’s a mistake many companies make.  Although not as widely discussed and criticized as these two.   Both of these companies thought they could do anything they wanted and consumers would accept it.  They never even considered what the consumer would think.  It was good operationally for each of them and that was the basis of their decision.

So a management decision that made complete sense internally backfired because no one bothered to consider or ask what their customers thought. And now they’re paying a large cost in public perception, consumer loyalty and sales.  Their brand has been tarnished.

Healthcare organizations sometimes make the same mistake.  In an effort to cut costs, improve efficiency and increase productivity, hospitals and healthcare organizations make decisions that make sense internally but may not be received well by patients.

It proves that we need to listen to the consumer and evaluate every decision from the customer’s perspective.  In a very competitive marketplace with pressures on the bottom-line organizations can ill afford to alienate customers.  Decisions made without considering the consumer may save money but it could cost far more in business, consumer locality and brand perception.

Of course we know this.  But sometimes we forget.  We look at decisions from every angle except from the viewpoint of the consumer.  Sometimes it takes highly publicized snafus like Facebook and Netflix to remind us that what our customers think is of extreme importance.  May we not get so removed from our customers that we repeat the mistake. 

 

Hospital Marketing: Dealing with Angry Patients/Customers Part 2

Every hospital has unhappy customers.  The question is not if you have them but what will you do with them?

Every hospital will have disgruntled customers from time to time.  But instead of letting the situation create bad ill and tarnish the brand, the situation can be used to show how your hospital cares and even build brand loyalty.

Based on consumer satisfaction research, an article in The Financial Brand listed the expectations of customers once they have issued a complaint.  The list is important for hospitals to understand and use as a guideline for dealing with angry customers.

Customers who have issued complaints expect to:

  • Receive an explanation of how a problem happened
  • Be told how long it will take to resolve a problem
  • Be given progress reports if a problem cannot be solved immediately.
  • Be given useful alternatives if a problem cannot be resolved.
  • Be allowed to talk to someone in authority.
  • Be contacted promptly once the problem is resolved.
  • Be called back when promised.
  • Know whom to contact in the future.
  • Be told about ways the customer’s situation might be used to prevent future problems.

It’s important hospitals address customer issues and fulfill the expectations listed above.  Unsolved problems have a particularly negative impact on both continued loyalty and word-of-mouth recommendations to others. Dissatisfied customers tell far more people about their experience than do satisfied customers.

So it’s imperative to deal with customer complaints and use the opportunity to turn a negative situation into a positive one.  One that can actually build customer loyalty.