Research suggests that patient-physician communication can improve patient loyalty, but this communication has to extend beyond the exam room. By sending messages to patients between visits, providers amplify engagement and encourage consumers to stay loyal to their practice, hospital or urgent care center.
The quality of these messages is crucial. You must utilize three pillars of good communication that, when combined, result in more meaningful, impactful interactions and keep your organization top of mind. When you supplement this communication with outstanding care, your patients will have no problems staying loyal.
Three Pillars of Good Communication
1. The Right Time
Whether you’re looking to start a newsletter or share general healthcare information, it’s important to think about how frequently you are communicating with your patients. Certainly, there are some messages — like appointment reminders — you must always send. But for anything else, you need to think about your audience and their preferences.
That’s where psychographic segmentation comes into play. Using a short survey, PatientBond’s proven and proprietary model categorizes healthcare consumers into one of five groups based on their lifestyle, preferences and motivations. These insights then help providers determine at what frequency they should communicate with patients.
- Self Achievers: Health is important to them and they strive to meet their health goals. They are more willing than the other segments to invest in their health and are on top of their check-ups.
- Balance Seekers: They view health from a wellness perspective and are open to multiple sources of information. Options are important to them.
- Priority Jugglers: This segment manages multiple responsibilities and can be more reactive to their own health. But, their family’s health is always top-of-mind.
- Direction Takers: Doctors are viewed as their most credible source on their health. They value their doctor’s advice and look to them for guidance, even if they may not always follow it.
- Willful Endurers: Living in the moment is this segments way of life. They only go to their doctor unless absolutely necessary and are self-reliant.
For example, when it comes to receiving reminders for a scheduled doctor’s visit, most segments want a reminder the week of their appointment. Except for Willful Endurers, that is. Willful Endurers are statistically more likely than any other segment to want a reminder 30 days or more after scheduling the visit. This data comes from the 2018 PatientBond Consumer Diagnostic, a nationally-representative study on healthcare consumers in the United States.
By understanding your patient’s psychographic segment, you can communicate with them when they’re most likely to respond and take action. These interactions, in turn, increase patient loyalty.
2. The Right Channel
Just as every patient has a preferred time and frequency of communication, they also have certain methods of communication that they prefer. These channels — whether phone, SMS, email or mail — can be determined by your psychographic segmentation, too.
According to the 2018 Consumer Diagnostic, Self Achievers are more likely to want an automated phone call before an annual check-up than Priority Jugglers, Balance Seekers and Willful Endurers. Likewise, Balance Seekers are more likely than Willful Endurers to prefer a text message reminder.
With a strong understanding of your patients’ psychographic segments, you can communicate with them in the ways they are most comfortable. By taking the time to cater to their preferences, you can also increase patient engagement and loyalty.
3. The Right Message
Every healthcare consumer can be empowered to take better care of their health. Tapping into the content that resonates with the individual patient is key to building strong loyalty. In an ideal world, your patients would think to themselves, “My healthcare team gets me.”
One message patients might be interested in is a follow-up from their primary care physician to see how they’re feeling after their last appointment. Based on the data of the aforementioned PatientBond study, Self Achievers are statistically more likely than any other segment to rate themselves “Extremely Interested” in these follow-up messages.
By looking at your patients’ segments, you can begin to understand who would prefer to receive which messages. When you send relevant messages to your patients, you are likely to foster a sense of patient engagement and loyalty.
Communication drives patient loyalty. However, if healthcare providers talk to patients without considering their individual needs and preferences, they might inadvertently push consumers away. Utilizing psychographic segmentation and the three pillars of good communication reduces this risk.
For more on psychographic segmentation and how it improves patient loyalty, download our case study.