Healthcare is poised for increased consumerism in 2019 and beyond. This focus on consumer experience isn’t a new trend, but it’s one that’s gaining traction with the rise of retail care and wearable fitness devices. Traditional healthcare must look for ways to reinvent itself in the eyes of consumers. Keep your system or organization relevant and loved with our advice on leveraging communications strategies in four key areas.
Know Your Consumer
- Put a face, or many faces, to your patients with market research that goes beyond the surface. Deepen engagement and true “voice of the customer” through focus groups and online or onsite surveys.
- Don’t assume research is “one and done.” Create a process to capture consumer insights at regular intervals, for a variety of population segments and for a variety of health-related topics. This gives you the most informed cross-section of consumer data from which to plan and act.
- Once you’ve vetted valuable insights, share them. Be sure everyone from the CEO to the frontline patient care rep understands the key takeaways and how those should inform their day-to-day actions.
Know What They’re Actually Experiencing
- When was the last time you walked the full patient journey at your facility or organization? No matter the answer, it’s probably time to do it again. Nothing gives you perspective on the need to improve the consumer experience like experiencing it yourself! Set up secret shopping excursions at several different levels of your organization and your competitors’. What’s good? What’s bad? Where are opportunities to differentiate?
- Competitive intelligence also can provide marketplace expertise and insights about your organization, your competitors and perceptions in the community.
- The consumer experience doesn’t begin or end at your doors. Consider how healthcare billing, appointment scheduling, or ancillary partners are affecting patients’ view of their experience with you.
- It can be a big leap from identifying improvement areas to enacting actual change. Smooth the process with good change communications for staff. Roll out large-scale initiatives with strong communications support to help activate and hardwire the changes faster and with fewer bumps.
- On the macro side, stay diligent about monitoring government relations issues that positively or negatively impact the consumer experience. Telehealth legislation affects access and convenience, for example. State regulations may affect how patients can see secondary clinicians. Anticipate barriers and opportunities and address them to your patients’ benefit.
- Convenience is essential for today’s busy consumers. Explore scheduling apps, online platforms for doc emails, consults and bill pay, and ways to connect your care with places patients already visit often. Need inspiration? Check out this great example from Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.
- Avoid jargon and complex language in patient communications. Translate medical terminology into easy-to-understand language or visuals, and deliver your message in a variety of formats to meet the preferences of multiple generations and styles.
Help Consumers Know You
- Be visible in the community. Town hall meetings or coffee groups with senior leadership go a long way toward helping consumers feel comfortable with and confident in your care.
- Work with local media on bylined columns that highlight physicians, nurses or leadership talking about issues that matter to the community.
- Reach business leaders with targeted relationship marketing outreach that gives you the opportunity to both educate and listen during one-on-one meetings.
- Use social media or a vibrant printed piece to stay top-of-mind for consumers, even when they’re not actively engaged with you.
At the heart of a great consumer experience are communications that are genuine, heartfelt and consistent. How are you leveraging yours? Call us. Let’s talk about how to get better faster