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.
So, why should patient relationships be prioritized? As it turns out, they’re more important than most people think:
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.
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.
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.
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.