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How to build loyalty into each patient experience

By: Ryan Donohue, Strategic Advisor, NRC Health 

The pandemic affected how communities perceive healthcare organizations, leading to delayed care and a growing distrust of health systems.

During July’s Becker’s Healthcare podcast,  I discussed what health systems could do to build long-lasting patient loyalty. 

John Berg, Marketing Director and Assistant Vice President of the University of Florida Health, and I believe healthcare organizations must restore patient trust and loyalty by differentiating their brands in the marketplace.

We’re seeing brands that were lumped together in consumers’ minds in our Market Insights data. 

Almost half of consumers said they heard the same messages from all the same health systems—we’re calling it the brand blur. 

We see less cynicism in data among consumers and patients, but there is work to do.

Here are four strategies that can help you work toward boosting patient loyalty and satisfaction.

4 strategies to boost patient loyalty and satisfaction

1. Differentiate your healthcare brand

Healthcare systems need to go out independently, re-establish trust and loyalty, and differentiate themselves. 

Consumers are saying, “Who are you again? We’ve all been through a lot and need a fresh start, and you need to start from zero with me.”

2. Reconsider how you engage with patients as you restore communication

UF Health adopted a brand voice that aimed to be that of a kind doctor. 

This approach ended up being a flop. The organization couldn’t successfully bring that communication style to community events. 

The message wasn’t resonating. 

Consider an update to your marketing and brand guidelines to ensure you engage with your local community on their terms.

3. Engage so patients think twice about delaying care

Health organizations have already seen decreased trust, or at least dissonance, among consumers, patients, and would-be patients. 

We know that when people don’t feel engaged with us, they may trust us less or act less loyal.

Even that little difference can greatly impact someone second-guessing if they should come in for care or miss medical appointments.

Almost the same number of people are deferring care now as in 2020. 

It’s important to create trust, engage, and build loyalty, but it also impacts the patient experience downstream. 

Healthcare organizations can’t deprioritize that.

4. Work to improve each stage of the patient journey 

Human understanding is at the forefront of how brands can help patients feel unique and know they are cared for, seen, and matter. 

Improving trust means caring about the whole journey—which starts in the parking lot and can end with follow-up materials helping a patient understand their diagnosis.

Patient loyalty is vital to driving the success of your healthcare organization

After my chat with John Berg, it’s clear how important patient loyalty is to drive the success of healthcare organizations. 

Unfortunately, patient loyalty and satisfaction aren’t easy to achieve in today’s environment. 

However, if you follow the strategies above, you will be on the right track to keep your patients coming back. Learn more about patient loyalty and listen to John Berg in July’s Becker’s Healthcare podcast.