By Christopher Cheney
Patient experience is the primary driver of patients’ consumer loyalty at health systems, hospitals, and physician practices, according to a recent Press Ganey report.
Consumer loyalty not only impacts finance but also enables population health efforts and care coordination such as long-term care of patients with multiple chronic illnesses.
Patient experience is five times more likely to influence brand loyalty than conventional marketing tools such as billboards, or television, print, or radio ads, the report says.
More than 1,000 adults were surveyed for the report.
Healthcare organizations can tap the power of patient experience, the report says.
“To harness that influence, providers should capitalize on the power of word-of-mouth marketing by viewing the patient experience as an essential part of their acquisition strategy. By gaining a deep understanding of what gets people talking about positive patient experiences, identifying opportunities to advance the conversation and disseminating key information, healthcare systems can naturally align the mission of delivering safe, high-quality, patient-centered care with the business of acquiring and retaining consumers.”
Cultivate consumer loyalty
There are four activities that should be a part of a healthcare organization’s patient acquisition and retention strategy, Chrissy Daniels, MS, a partner in the Medical Practice/Consumerism & Transparency at Press Ganey, told HealthLeaders recently.
- Give every patient a voice. Maximize the volume and timeliness of feedback by leveraging delivery of surveys via text and email in addition to standard outreach.
- Identify factors that drive and erode loyalty. In order to enable targeted improvement strategies, it is important to be able to identify positive loyalty metrics such as likelihood to recommend.
- Use natural language (NLP) processing to analyze comments. NLP ensures that every opportunity for service recovery is identified. NLP also allows aggregation of comments into clear brand equities and liabilities, allowing for proactive management of both experience and brand.
- Post ratings and reviews in physician profiles. Ensure that future patients have the most convenient access to all the information they seek by including comments—both positive and negative—and ratings of current patients.
Elevate search engine optimization and online user experience
There are two primary ways for healthcare organizations to maximize their presence in search engine results and to boost online patient experience, Daniels said.
- Build a great website: Your website is your brand. Make sure it represents your practice. Build a site that is mobile friendly, loads fast, and utilizes proper quality design standards to ensure a great user experience.
- Earn quality reviews: When patients are looking for a healthcare provider, they are looking for quality and volume of reviews—so are search engines. Paying attention to the volume and quality of your reviews online is extremely important, and it is also a huge part of local SEO for doctors.
Address negative reviews
Negative reviews online from patients can be an opportunity to improve patient experience, the Press Ganey report says.
“Although no physician likes to be the subject of negative reviews, these findings should reassure physicians that a single negative comment—particularly if it is an outlier among favorable comments—is not going to keep patients from selecting that provider. The real opportunity is to focus on any emerging patterns from negative comments and to target those areas for improvement.”