Most hospitals focus their marketing budgets on generating leads through TV, radio, and the Internet. Many hospital marketers, however, forget to focus on one of the most powerful marketing tools available: the patient experience.
The patient experience should be a natural extension of any hospital’s marketing plan. Why spend valuable resources on attracting patients only to alienate them with a negative in-hospital experience? There are some simple and cost-effective ways to improve the patient experience that will lead to higher rates of satisfaction among patients and their visitors.
Patient satisfaction surveys
Evaluating a hospital’s strengths and weaknesses is critical to establishing how the patient experience can be improved.
Most hospitals utilize some form of patient satisfaction survey. While a hospital may already use these surveys to improve the patient experience, survey results should also be shared with marketing staff. This valuable information allows marketers to promote what the hospital is already doing well to potential patients. Alternatively, marketing managers should collaborate with hospital management to implement programs and fixes that can improve the in-hospital patient experience.
If a hospital does not conduct patient satisfaction surveys, marketers should consider suggesting its implementation. Surveys are an excellent way to obtain quantifiable results that allow hospital marketers and managers to identify cost-effective ways to improve the patient experience.
According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, one of the biggest patient complaints is noise intrusion. Hospitals face a challenge in providing a soothing environment that is conducive to healing while maintaining an effective work place for doctors and nurses.
Marketers can work with hospital staff to implement noise reducing programs that will improve the patient experience. Some cost-effective solutions include:
- Providing patients care packages that include ear plugs, sleep masks, and white noise machines.
- Providing “Do Not Disturb” signs that can be used in the same way as a hotel.
- Providing headsets with the goal of reducing television noise.
Solutions do not have to be expensive to be effective, and marketers can promote these noise-reducing programs as a selling point for the hospital.
Automation vs. Personal Contact
Whether trying to call the hospital, connect with a nurse, or contact a physician, patients are often met with communication obstacles.
In an earlier blog, we discussed the importance of adequate phone coverage in medical offices. While hospitals are much larger, it is still important to find the proper balance between providing patients with automated services for simple tasks, such as scheduling an appointment or refilling a prescription, and ensuring that a person is easily reachable at all times. Adequately trained phone staff is critical in ensuring that patients and visitors receive accurate information.
Frustration leaves a lasting impression with patients. Marketers must always remember that the patient experience is not limited to the patient, but extends to every person that visits or contacts the hospital. Hospital marketers should work with hospital management to identify problem areas in communication in order to improve the patient experience.