It seems patients are more engaged in their health care these days. Policies encourage transparency, information is easily accessed, and patients have the ability to travel to the hospital of their wish.
From improving patient satisfaction through care, hospitals can market and persuade patients to choose their hospital over a competitor. Down the line this creates patient loyalty from their consumption of healthcare services. Loyal patients are more “valuable” than disengaged patients. However, building patient loyalty does not require as different of an approach than one might think. It is a service business, whether one likes to admit it or not. This means marketers want more patients and they invest and spend a lot of resources getting more patients.
Here is where a question arises: Should the hospitals be spending this excess money on marketing when they could spend it on research or meet the full range of needs for the patients they already have? This is an imbalance of future and loyal patients and it costs the health care systems millions of dollars every year. Looking strictly from a revenue P.O.V. may sound like a solid business strategy but it less efficient that investing in loyalty.
Should hospitals be more loyal to their patients?
Is the hospital responsible to their profits or their duty to patients? The hospitals doctors all have an oath to patient care.
Regardless of what you think, it seems inferred that loyal patients are best. It shows the hospital is providing quality health care and is most likely in financial good standing. Therefore creating and retaining loyal patients is good.
To make patients loyal they must feel satisfied with their experience. Strategies to improve satisfaction cause some dilemmas as well. Strategies usually involve a tradeoff of effectiveness and efficiency. Is the hospital more responsible to help the effectiveness of the services to the patients or the efficiency of the patients service? Example: it may be efficient for a hospital to schedule appointments in blocks of time. However, the blocks of time lead to a longer average wait time for patients which reduces patient satisfaction and diminishes the hopes of building or maintaining loyalty.
Hospitals need to show patients integration of their social responsibility to their health and the money they have to spend on it. If hospitals are going to spend money on marketing campaigns to gain patients, they need to show their direct initiatives have real meanings to patients. Returns in customer loyalty will cover the marketing costs but they needs to be done with an oath in mind, not a dollar sign. CSR is a powerful tool that hospitals can use to attract patients in order to give the utmost health care while also attracting the top class care givers and investors to help keep the hospital doing what it does best!
Below is a video created by a consulting firm who maps out equations in patient experience management.
Integrated Loyalty Systems. “Improve Patient Satisfaction.”
Luan, Jackie. “Does Corporate Social Responsibility Build Customer Loyalty?.” Advertising Age.
Rodak, Sabrina. “Where do Patients’ Loyalties Lie?.” Becker’s Hospital Review.