Patient Engagement in Healthcare: Stewards of the Brand Promise

February 8, 2014
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Helping the Helpers

patient engagementTraditionally, marketing departments have been excellent at communicating to consumers the benefits and emotional connections between organizational brands and their respective customers. They have used powerful statements to share endearing imagery.

Helping the Helpers

patient engagementTraditionally, marketing departments have been excellent at communicating to consumers the benefits and emotional connections between organizational brands and their respective customers. They have used powerful statements to share endearing imagery. Without a doubt, the degree of effectiveness has been measured and adjusted with a great deal of resources and investment, still continuing today. In the healthcare field there’s been a big push toward patient engagement. Ironically, patients have always been engaged –but traditionally they have been confused, overwhelmed, or only mildly informed by healthcare institutions. The problem lies not in a lack of passion from care providers, but rather the lack of tools available to aid them in assisting, guiding, and reminding patients (and their families) along the continuum of care.

Within the past couple of decades, there has been a great deal of influence over the technology infrastructure and digital ability to connect with consumers and patients. From sophisticated customer portals to highly visible social networking platforms, there is no doubt that the online brand experience is in the hands of consumers.

The Importance of Patient Engagement

Meanwhile, physical customer experiences have always been at the heart of the brand…and even though there are wonderful messages from marketers and the amazing capabilities that technology platforms provide, how people are treated by the actual workforce can make or break a brand. Just think of that angry waitress at your favorite restaurant, the realtor who kept saying your name wrong, waiting in an ER room for an eternity, the coffee barista who messed up your favorite drink, a customer support rep who gave you the wrong info, or the flight attendant who kept bumping into your elbow throughout the flight. Or inversely, the sensitive veterinarian who not only speaks to your dog like it’s a human, but remembers the conversation with you from six months earlier. In addition, their follow up call to you to see how the medication is working, as well as how your dog is feeling. How did that customer experience influence your perception of those respective brands? What if it happened a lot? Would you recommend that organization or service again?

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Providing Caregivers with the Right Tools

Today, there are more tools to allow operational workers to improve upon the patient’s experience, whether it’s the barista who can offer an instant discount or the flight attendant who can upgrade your seat to first class. It’s at the moment of patient engagement that brands are made or degraded. By providing more touch-points along the continuum of care, health organizations can extend their brand promise to a more fluid and dynamic care delivery. In healthcare there is opportunity to improve the outcomes and experiences of patients by providing care workers with enhanced engagement tools. Investing in the brand ambassadors, the healthcare workers, with better tools and approaches is the keystone that will deliver on the marketer’s brand promise and the technology team’s ability to capture it all digitally. For example, being able to connect with patients (and their care givers) via mobile devices allow caregivers and patients an in-the-moment channel of communication outside of the care facility. These tools can complement the patient experience with pre- and post-visit instructions, relevant health content, timely reminders and helpful satisfaction surveys. In addition, providing traffic, weather, parking instructions, and nearby activity information that is provided just before care—can help get patients to their providers in a timely and safer way. In addition, secure message with a warm thank you with discharge instructions and a link to their electronic medical records can help promote better compliance rates and help support the goals of lower readmissions.

Originally appeared on Gold Mobile

(patient engagement / shutterstock)