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N = Nancy: the power of loyalty in healthcare

We live in an era where most patients are simply not loyal to a healthcare provider or brand. What is keeping health organizations from building strong relationships with those they serve and earning their trust? A lack of information—not knowing what it takes to deliver an exceptional experience to those they serve; not understanding what matters most to each person—or when.

Know them first; know them best

Even in China, quality and satisfaction lead to healthcare loyalty and one of the first steps towards quality and satisfaction is knowing your patients. Imagine knowing your patient before you even meet her—understanding her preferences, knowing her perception of your organization and services. Segmenting is becoming more crucial than ever when attempting to reach consumers with marketing messages and drive organizational growth.

Healthcare organizations need to be more informed about healthcare consumers in their markets to ensure they are promoting material that is directly relevant to their intended audience.

Let’s take our example patient, Nancy, and fictitious health system, ABC Health. From her EMR, you know that Nancy is 48, living in the suburbs, has children, and is managing type II diabetes. Leveraging what you know about Nancy through syndicated healthcare consumer research, you can tell that Nancy likely:

  • Makes healthcare decisions for her entire household
  • Is educated on healthcare options and open to non-traditional healthcare settings, i.e. urgent care
  • Prefers email communication
  • Finds physician ratings and reviews to be the most important information on a healthcare organization’s website

With this information, ABC Health cannot only reach Nancy with the health information she needs to care for herself and her family but also ensure that her experience with their healthcare brand is as personalized as possible.

Get a clear picture of the moment, in the moment

To measure the success of personalized care for Nancy, ABC Health needs to get a clear picture of her care experience—in real-time, giving healthcare providers the ability to receive and take action on customer feedback within hours of her visit.

The information gathered will inform the provider about Nancy’s perception of the experience, provide visibility to the specific compliments or concerns expressed, and track any service recovery activities. So, what does this look like for Nancy?

Let’s say, Nancy’s first appointment with ABC Health System does not go well. The center is running late, the doctor is rushed, and Nancy provides feedback on an SMS survey she received a few hours after her visit that she didn’t feel listened to.

NRC’s latest research shows that the first visit is a sacred moment in building patient-provider trust. Given Nancy’s engagement and influence directing care for her family, and as new user of their internal medicine services, Nancy is flagged immediately for a service recovery call.

Respond to feedback and improve

ABC Health’s service team reaches out to Nancy to learn about the visit and apologize that the service did not meet her or ABC Health’s standards. During the discussion, it was identified that the breakdown in provider-patient communication prevented Nancy from discussing—or addressing—her question about her chronic health condition.

The service team provides an immediate refund of her co-pay. Seeing that a different provider can see Nancy tomorrow, the service team offers to schedule her for another visit and she agrees. At the end of the call, she thanks the service team for caring so much about her and her family.

When she returns to the center the next day, her experience is very different. The physician and physician assistant put Nancy immediately at ease. They had just received training on communicating with empathy and apologized that yesterday’s visit did not go as planned, but wanted to listen and understand completely what matters most to Nancy: her fears, concerns, and hopes.

Nancy provides feedback following the visit that this is how healthcare ought to be and that ABC Health will be where she directs care for her family going forward.

Nancy is now a loyal customer. How can her experience help inform the healthcare choices of other consumers and bolster ABC Health’s reputation?

Share experiences to inform

Already, 70% of consumers would like to see healthcare provider performance information; 45% have viewed physician ratings and reviews online; and 30% say that researching online reputation is their first step in a provider search.

There is a tremendous opportunity to gain consumer trust now—by giving them the information they crave to better inform their care decisions. What’s important to Nancy is likely important to many other future ABC Health patients.

Nancy’s published feedback—in the form of online ratings and reviews—speaks to consumers like a personal recommendation, assuring their choice of provider.

What did Nancy’s loyalty do for ABC Health?

Nancy’s experience—her story—influenced the choices of her entire family as well as every consumer who read her review. Breaking down the barriers of patient loyalty with one person, Nancy—knowing her, delivering a personalized care experience, listening to and sharing her feedback—opened the doors to earn the trust of countless consumers.

The strong relationships between ABC Health and its patients not only ensure a bright future for the organization, but more importantly, a healthier community.

Need to learn more about the importance of loyalty in healthcare? Find insight here.

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