For years, we’ve talked about improving patient experience and patient-centric care. Now it’s time to walk the talk. Patients want information about their health and wellness, not industry awards, consumer surveys or scores.
Once they walk through your “front door,” whether virtually or in person, all attention should be on the patient experience.
In 2004, Fred Lee left his role as a hospital executive to train as a Disney cast member. His experience led him to write, “If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 1/2 Things You Would Do Differently.” The book still receives accolades for pointing out how healthcare entities can learn from Mickey Mouse.
“Service should be changed to experience. We are not at a patient’s bedside to provide a service. We are there to provide a compassionate healing experience so the body can mend itself,” wrote Lee, who passed away in 2017.
He pointed out that patients expect quality care; that’s basic. But, they judge the experience by how they are treated as a person. As marketers, we need to think like imagineers to help make the patient experience remarkable from first to last impressions.
What are you doing for patient experience?
After more than a year of a global pandemic, brand loyalty depends on effective, clear and smart communication. The human connection begins online. Look at everything you are doing and offering in the digital space, from telehealth visits and virtual events to tools for managing payments. Schedule content around innovations for patients.
Include video on all channels and consider featuring frontline employees such as with a valet attendant talking about free parking or a volunteer from the information desk updating visitor policies. Patients want to feel safe and cared for at every touchpoint.
Patient safety is part of the patient experience
Now more than ever, health and safety are top of mind. Yet, reports indicate that about 36 percent of non-elderly adults and 29 percent of children delayed care over the past year because of COVID-19 concerns.
Whether for preventive screenings or routine care to manage chronic illnesses, the priority is to reconnect with those patients. That begins with reassuring them that all possible precautions are being taken to keep them safe. Safety is definitely part of the patient experience.
Include messages about the importance of not overlooking routine care or ignoring symptoms. Don’t wait until October to start a breast care awareness campaign. Consistent mammogram screening reminders throughout the year can save lives.
How should patients prepare for tests and screenings?
Patients grow anxious over the unknown. Help to ease their tension with open and frequent communication about what to expect—from registration to discharge.
Follow the “The Rule of 7” marketing adage—seven interactions needed for a consumer to connect with a brand. Use all of your available channels to communicate information about procedures that could impact the patient experience.
Who can patients trust?
The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals an epidemic of misinformation and erosion of trust, particularly in the US. To make the situation even worse, ads recently showed up from more than 4,000 brands—including some of this country’s largest healthcare organizations—on websites with false COVID-19 information.
Position your healthcare brand as the community’s trusted authority. Health topics still dominate the news cycle, so pitch your doctors, nurses and patient stories to media outlets. Position medical directors on morning news shows to provide vaccination updates. An interview with a pediatric nurse can help reassure parents and children about returning to the classroom. Include patient testimonials on content calendars.
Do your values align with those of your patients?
A recent Consumer Index Report shares that 65 percent of consumers are more likely to support a brand that cares about the same social issues they do. Part of the consumer experience is seeing action from your brand in the community.
It’s not time for platitudes, but it is a time to tell a good story. Share photos on social media of the CEO shoveling snow. Doctors blogging about their own COVID-19 journeys can humanize your brand. Hospital employees handing out water at a free test site shows how you relate to your consumers.
Now is the time to listen and reimagine how to create a remarkable patient experience.