For medicine and healthcare, what grows a business is the same as in every other industry: loyalty. So there’s no reason not to draw upon the lessons of hugely successful brands like Walmart, Amazon and McDonald’s who have made it a point to build loyalty by building their businesses off of the preferences of their customers, from service to engagement.
This year, the competition for your patients’ loyalty is fiercer than ever. Here are 5 ways to draw off of the examples of other industries to boost your business.
Just as you might use a kiosk to quickly check into a flight, more and more urgent care centers are using kiosks to check in their patients. However, this feature isn’t limited to urgent cares. When patients come into their practitioner's office, check in via touchscreen and then have wait times communicated with them, they feel like they are in control and saving time. It also saves your office money. While there is still a need for friendly and helpful office personnel, kiosks free up time that can be spent on other aspects of the patient experience.
Besides giving patients a HIPPA sheet on a clipboard to sign, go the extra mile to really show you respect their privacy. Don’t leave clipboards on counters (another advantage to kiosk check-in), and have a private setting to discuss payment and health issues where other patients and staff aren’t milling around. Patient expectations - like consumer expectations - for privacy have grown in recent years due to cultural shifts. A 2018 PatientBond market research study found that when it comes to communicating with healthcare providers, 45 percent of the general population is concerned about security and privacy and nearly half of Millennials feel that way. All patient transactions should be conducted in respectful, private settings. And if you don't have such a setting, make one.
We live in a world now where brands come with us on our smartphones and tablets. Children engage with McDonald's with the McPlay app long after their fries are gone. Airlines update flight information on their mobile apps. And grocery stores allow us to complete mobile orders, search for recipes and compile shopping lists all under the umbrella of their apps. This desire for engagement is something medical establishments can capitalize on by implementing an electronic communication platform.
PatientBond, for instance, allows a patient to decide which way they want to interact with their practitioner's office: smartphone, email or phone. Appointment reminders, medication notification, wellness information and visit follow-ups can be directed to the patient. Better yet, PatientBond digs deeper to divide patients profiles using psychographic segmentation, an emerging field in healthcare that involves drilling down beneath the surface to consumers’ values, attitudes, personalities and lifestyles and understanding their unique motivations. No two people are the same, so it makes sense that a Willful Endurer, who lives in the moment, statistically prefers an annual check-up reminder 30 days after it’s due more than any other segment (with 95 percent confidence) while a Balance Seeker, who are proactive with their health, prefer a notification over 30 days before the check-up is due. By engaging with patients through psychographic segmentation, communication is tailored most effectively.
SPECIAL EVENTS OUTSIDE THE HOSPITAL:
There is a reason that companies like Goodyear, Capital One and AT&T pay big money for bowl game naming rights: it works. When you think about those companies, there’s an association with more than just the experience (good or bad) of interacting with their brands. There’s an association with a nail-biting run up the field or a Hail Mary pass. When a patient thinks about a hospital or doctor’s office, their thoughts are often associated with an illness or a chronic health condition. If your organization sponsors a 5K run or has a mobile unit at the local high school football game, you can take advantage of the events’ goodwill and get your brand on people’s minds not just when they are sick but also when they are well. Hospitals, clinics and urgent cares should strive to be portals of wellness in a community - it doesn’t have to be expensive, but a ribbon hanging on someone’s wall for the “Mercy Hospital 5K” is priceless.
Can you imagine going to a grocery store where nothing has a price tag on it? You’d fill your cart, get to the check-out aisle and be surprised - possibly scrambling to put back items that just don’t fit in the budget, or having to swallow the cost of items you absolutely need but didn’t realize were so expensive. True, the comparison between the grocery store and the healthcare pricing and billing system is too simple for this complex issue. But empowering the patient breeds loyalty, and if a patient is in the dark about what a medical bill will be until they get it, they will not feel empowered. The 2018 PatientBond market research study found that 49 percent of the general population worries they will be forced to make hard choices due to healthcare costs, so they need to know everything they can. If a patient knows that a total knee is going to cost $5000 going in, then they can budget and plan accordingly.