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Virtua Health: Revolutionizing PX through Human Understanding

In healthcare, good marketing connects with people to ensure they understand what services might be right for them and how organizations understand what matters most to their customers. For Virtua Health, storytelling is their language to support those connections, simplifying values and understanding people in memorable and lasting ways.

During September’s Becker’s Hospital Review podcast, two prominent healthcare leaders discussed how creating Human Understanding–focused experiences with patients has been successful at Virtua Health. The podcast, hosted by Erica Spicer Mason, featured Ryan Younger, Vice President of Marketing for Virtua Health, and June Captain, Associate Vice President of Customer Strategy for NRC Health

Virtua Health is focused on constantly listening to consumers to improve the healthcare journey. To create Human Understanding and design experiences that inspire loyalty, Virtua is “heart-wired” and has translated metrics into action. For marketing, this involves storytelling to help build the organization’s reputation and improve how people feel about their brand. For champions in the C-suite, it means establishing a structure to unite clinical teams with experience, culture, and quality teams.

“We’re really helping to amplify the voice of the consumer as one of the groups that listens and seeks to understand what matters most to people,” says Younger.

Real-time information from NRC Health has been a critical part of the process, and a passionate team of colleagues has embraced a model for success.

“We know that patients are more likely to remember and even recommend healthcare providers and the facilities if there is a memorable experience,” says Captain. “Marketing teams use compelling stories and narratives to make that lasting impression on patients, and we know that leads to loyalty and, really, word-of-mouth referrals. NRC is proud to partner and help capture those stories. Where healthcare can often feel cold and clinical, these stories really help to humanize the experience. It works on both sides of the stethoscope—sharing stories for healthcare providers about their dedication, compassion, and empathy helps create a more personal connection between the patients and the care teams. It reminds patients and care-team members that they’re not just a number. There are humans on both sides of that, with unique stories and needs—and so marketing plays a crucial role in telling those stories to the community.”

In 2021, NRC Health combined scientific rigor with real-world experiences to generate a measure of Human Understanding that was person-centered, equity-focused, and valid across every care setting, regardless of where the patient stepped in. The question was, “Did everyone treat you as unique?”

According to focus groups and national surveys, most people expect everyone in a care team to treat them as unique in every encounter. In 2022, NRC had over 906,000 responses. This year, they have over 2.6 million responses to that question alone, a metric tied to loyalty.

“When a person says that they’ve had that unique experience, they are 12 times higher to be a promoter of your organization than someone who doesn’t have that unique experience and doesn’t feel like they were treated as a unique individual,” Captain says.

Younger says that at Virtua, they are building on some of that research of treating patients as unique people and digging into what it means specifically to their consumers.

“We look beyond the numbers to establish our ‘why,’” he says. “We feel strongly that we’ve have to connect everyone to our purpose and vision and create alignment to get clear buy-in for the amazing things we get to do.”

Younger says language at Virtua is a two-way street. Providers listen closely to consumers to understand what they’re saying, and Virtua is intentional about how they go into deeper understanding to embrace each person’s uniqueness and how they connect. He advises organizations wanting to adopt a Human Understanding approach to patient experience not to wait for the perfect plan or a linear roadmap to get there.

“Everybody’s part of the experience, culture, and brand—everyone makes an impression and has an impact,” he says. “Focus on creating memorable stories to show the impact you have.”

Listen to the full episode.  

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