2020 has taught us many things in healthcare, but one lesson that stands out is the fact that we can do a lot more virtually than we think. And yet, many providers are having a tough time figuring out how to build loyalty among their patients when they aren’t in-person.
We’ve talked about building patient loyalty programs before, but the suggestions didn’t have a pandemic in mind. However, technology has come a long way in bringing people even closer together and there are virtual options out there to build loyalty. There’s a lot of burnout in that department amid the pandemic, but if patients find value and meaning in how you’re connecting with them, they will gravitate toward your offerings.
Social Media Influencer Program
Social media does a lot more building loyalty than you might think. While your patients may get more excited to see the latest tweet from their favorite celebrity, you can generate enthusiasm for your brand using social media and do it with the help of your most loyal followers.
Over the years, non-profits, companies and other organizations have launched influencer programs for their brands, providing content for consumers to share, offering rewards for sharing content and providing other perks. You can use social media tools to find your most engaged followers like SocialRank or share the information with all of your followers about the program. These influencers will help you represent your brand in a positive way and allows you to get important content to your patients and future patients like news about your center, health expertise on common conditions, new health guidelines for illnesses like COVID-19, blog posts from your website, patient stories, events you’re sponsoring in town or causes you’re supporting.
The beauty of programs like this is that your content can be shared on multiple platforms, allowing your reach to grow larger. And patients that are a part of it will love that they’re part of this unique group. By having consumers help share your content, it amplifies your ability to add a personal connection to your brand that you may not get through other communication tools to build loyalty. Patients feel a genuine connection with you whether they’re the ones sharing your content through the program or they’re seeing that content. That connection, which is amplified when that information is seen as a genuine way that enriches their lives, will evoke a loyal following.
Provider Newsletters, Notifications and Subscriptions
One of the easiest and most affordable options to engage with your patients is through your content. The problem is a lot of patients don’t regularly check for it, so the best way to get it to them is through an email newsletter, texts or app notifications or a blog subscription. This allows patients to get the latest news and health information, whether it’s in their email inbox or an alert on their phone.
It’s important to consistently post content on your website, like on a blog, so that it not only keeps you top of mind with your patients, but also to build your SEO rank so that potential patients have a better chance of finding you on Google. If you have the capacity to cover multiple healthcare topics, you could give patients the option to subscribe to specific types of content when they are choosing to subscribe to your emails, notifications or blogs such as heart health or pediatrics. And if there are things they need to do, like get a flu shot or an annual check-up, it adds an extra reminder and the information they need to get those things scheduled.
If you want to make the content more engaging so that people are interested in subscribing to it, create content that can be a series that pulls in patient participation. A good example is something like “Ask a Doc,” where patients could anonymously submit questions and the doctor shares their response in a blog post or a short video.
Content that personally engages patients more versus talking at them builds a much stronger connection because it makes it personalized. And making your approach more personalized makes patients more likely to stick with you. If you have the means to build sign-ups for these subscriptions, notifications or newsletters, it’s a no-brainer.
Virtual Health and Fitness Program
Step challenges are great, but you could integrate more in a virtual health and fitness program depending on the patient, again making the approach personalized. In the PatientBond Consumer Diagnostic national market research study of health consumers, nearly 12% of patients use wearables and nearly 16% use health or fitness apps. Depending on what PatientBond’s psychographic segment they’re in, that number could be higher.
Psychographic segmentation looks at what motivates a patient based on their beliefs, values, attitudes, etc. These patients range from being proactive with their health to being reactive with their health and are divided into five segments. If your patients and your community are comprised of more proactive patients, like Self Achievers and Balance Seekers, a virtual health and fitness program could be a great option for your center.
These segments are using wearables and health and fitness apps more than the general population, with about 16% using wearables and one in five using health and fitness apps. You could choose to do the program however you want by integrating certain apps or wearables into your systems and offering services to go with the program. Patients could create a healthy diet plan with nutritionists on staff and create a plan with their doctor on health goals they’d like to achieve, all of which can be uploaded on a digital health platform like the PatientBond Digital Health Platform. And patients can regularly meet with their doctors to track progress or stay in touch using the platform’s messaging tool.
Moreover, Self Achievers are the chat-leaders and influencers among their peers. They are the most likely patient type to share their opinions and are highly valuable to cultivate as social media ambassadors.
Let’s face it, nothing beats meeting with a doctor in-person and patients prefer it. The reality is that not every interaction with a provider will be that way and we need to learn how to build loyalty without depending solely on those in-person interactions. These virtual options are a nice start and a good way to build on what you have to grow your patient loyalty now and in the future.