Healthcare organizations are often seen as distinct from businesses because their “clients” are patients. Patients, unlike traditional clients and customers, tend to have urgent needs and limited options to address those needs, so typical conventions like the average “buying cycle” and customer retention don’t necessarily apply. Accordingly, many healthcare organizations don’t prioritize the value of their patient relationships the way they should.
Why Patient Relationships Are So Important
So, why should patient relationships be prioritized? As it turns out, they’re more important than most people think:
- Better reviews. We live in an age where online reviews matter and are easily accessible to the population. Patients who do their research may avoid you or prioritize you based on the types of reviews you receive, and cultivating better patient relationships can help you optimize these reviews.
- A better reputation. Your organization will, over time, develop a better reputation among your patients and in your area as you improve your patient relationships, which will help attract new patients and improve perceived satisfaction as well.
- Word-of-mouth referrals. Patients who have had a pleasant, positive experience will be far more likely to recommend your organization to others they know who encounter similar situations.
- Easier ongoing relationships. People who feel like they’re in an organization that prioritizes patient relationships will be easier to work with. They’ll be more communicative and more helpful. As a result, your staff will be able to work more effectively and more efficiently.
Marketing Strategies for Better Relationships
The surface level of managing better patient relationships is through face-to-face communication and more “personal” experiences. But beyond those basic best practices, you can use marketing and organization-level communications strategies to help support the development of your patient relationships.
Your first job is to provide patients with more detailed information about your organization and their treatment options. Simple awareness campaigns, driven to help patients learn more about their specific types of care, show your patients that you care about them and help new patients develop more trust in your institution. Instituting paperless medical records systems and other forms of patient-visible stores of information can also help you increase transparency here. The more information you provide your patients up front and throughout the engagement, the happier they’re going to be.
Social engagements for current patients
Giving your current patients a way to engage with your organization will simultaneously make them feel more connected with your brand and increase the visibility of your efforts. Use contests hashtags and ongoing content marketing techniques to give your patients opportunities to engage with your brand. Maintain an active social presence, and respond to anyone who mentions you online. This will drive visibility and even more engagement, which is going to make every patient experience that much more valuable.
Outreach programs for the local community
You can also increase your organization’s visibility and perceived level of commitment to your community by getting involved in more community events. Sponsor a local event, get involved as a speaker, or host events in your own space to raise public awareness. You can use this as an opportunity to build awareness of your brand while also serving your community. Plus, you can use press releases and other forms of content to promote your involvement.
Case studies and other illustrations of care
On social media, people love to see stories of others, and healthcare organizations have ample opportunities to tell powerful stories (with patient consent, of course). When you encounter a powerful story of recovery, or if your organization has made a major improvement (such as hiring someone new or buying new equipment), announce it on social media and through your ongoing promotional work. It shows people how committed you are and builds patient trust.
These marketing strategies are all about providing information, creating a sense of belonging, and improving the average patient’s disposition. Together with a more personal disposition and friendlier in-person experience, you’ll end up with more satisfied patients, and cumulatively, all these strategies will help you forge stronger, longer-lasting relationships with your patients, and your healthcare organization will be able to thrive.