According to Dipanjan Chatterjee, a Forrester analyst and Forbes columnist, “anything and anyone that shapes brand perception drives brand” Chatterjee states. “The brand does not belong to the CMO alone.”
As a lead marketer you’ve known that since day one, and you’ve fostered years of inventive healthcare marketing solutions to mold your brand’s identity and articulate its unique value to your audience. But today’s landscape—crowded with new, highly competitive healthcare options—has raised the stakes, and made amplifying brand perception more challenging than ever before.
Patient Experience = Reputation: Evolve, Don’t Manage
Excluding medical outcomes, you’d be hard-pressed to find a greater influence on health care brand reputation than patient experience. According to a recent study by The Beryl Institute, patient experience is a core component of brand perception among global healthcare consumers. It was a key or deciding factor in 95% of consumers’ future decisions regarding choosing or staying with a healthcare provider.
Consumers surveyed said that they viewed the entire continuum of care—from intake to the quality of communications after a visit—as elemental to their perception of a positive brand experience.
According to Dr. Jason Wolf, president of The Beryl Institute, “patient experience is strongly tied to patients’ expectations and whether they were positively realized (beyond clinical outcomes or health status).” In the minds of consumers, Wolf stated, the calculation of a “good” or “bad” patient experience is never just “in the moment.” Most often it includes the sum of met—or unmet—expectations regarding the quality of service—expectations often created even before any first-hand interactions with the health care system in question.
That means that one of the most critical elements of patient experience—a consumer’s perception of your provider’s willingness to meet their service requirements—can be influenced by a campaign that explicitly demonstrates your brand’s desire to offer tangible patient value.
Case in Point:
The Ochsner Center for Primary Care and Wellness began promoting the modernization of its customer service processes and used a pilot project called “The O Bar” to serve as its flagship example. An on-site digital health services hub modeled after the “Genius Bar” at Apple retail stores, non-patients could use iPads to visit hundreds of wellness apps, read health-related content, or try out health tech wearables with the help of a tech assistant. Patients could login to use Ochsner-branded personalized apps to interact with physicians, manage health records, and transmit data from health-monitoring wearables to their health providers.
Ochsner health system used social media and on-site display to emphasize that the hospital’s use of technology wasn’t a temporary, buzz-seeking gimmick: it was a natural development in response to changing consumer requirements. The pilot was met with enormous success: customer feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and the system opened two more O Bar locations within a year.
In healthcare, as in other industries, engaging content can be a powerful tool to alter brand perception. Use bite-sized, sharable content and feedback-focused social media campaigns to show positive changes implemented by your provider as a deliberate evolution in response to changing patient needs. Recent research shows that health system responsiveness—or lack thereof—on social media can also be a key factor in brand perception, so utilizing marketing solutions like social conversations and brand messaging should be prioritized. When possible, employ on-site DOOH tools—as Ochsner Health System did with “The O Bar”—to drive home your health care system’s commitment to meeting, and then exceeding, patient expectations.
Empowered Patients Ask Questions: Practice Radical Transparency
Today’s empowered healthcare consumers see themselves as customers, not just recipients of medical care: when service fails to satisfy, it’s quite likely that they’ll consider seeking an alternative provider. While the impact of negative patient experiences on brand perception can’t be erased, it can be made less damaging by adopting a proactive stance in addressing patient concerns in your campaign.
Case in Point:
The Cleveland Clinic, like most healthcare systems, occasionally experiences longer delays in ER admittance for new patients than expected. During those times, every member of staff—from passing nurses to custodians—has a specific role (for which they have been trained) in communicating with patients who ask questions about wait times. How did Cleveland Clinic achieve that level of customer service? Part of the inspiration came from their marketing department. In 2008, the clinic had one of the lowest ratings in the country in patient experience based on consumer surveys. The health system began an aggressive pursuit of consumer feedback at every level of the patient care delivery process. The hospital also did something rarely seen in the industry through its concurrent marketing campaign: it widely publicized the results of its internal audits of consumer satisfaction—audits which were in many cases overwhelmingly negative.
Rather than argue a defense against a slew of dissatisfied customers, the health system committed to radical transparency and then—when it had the attention of everyone—openly showed the steps it was taking to place patient experience as a top priority. The hospital created a campaign to cultivate consumer expectations of quality care from the moment of their arrival. Through an interactive online video, new patients were presented with a narrative describing the initial care process, including potential procedures and their rationale. External digital and social media marketing campaigns emphasized the health system’s desire for feedback and even criticism from its audience. The result? Within four years The Cleveland Clinic climbed to a patient experience ranking in the top 10% in the nation.
Make it clear in your campaigns that your healthcare system endeavors to provide personalized solutions to individual needs. Use real-world examples whenever possible to show a commitment to making missteps opportunities to optimize healthcare delivery. Provide consumers with ways to have a social conversation online about what they want from a healthcare provider and how your brand can meet their requirements. Make every interaction a reinforcement of your brand’s ability to perform beyond the expected: use case studies and storytelling to drive the point home.
Consistently working to develop healthcare marketing solutions that will drive your patient experience towards a positive outcome is crucial in the long-term success of your brand’s perception.
Changing consumer brand perception is challenging in any market climate: don’t face the uncertainty alone. Book a free consultation with us.