Brand Management

Healthcare Marketing Trends: Hospital? Or do we mean ‘hospitality’?

When considering the realm of healthcare marketing trends and healthcare delivery, any experienced medical professional will tell you that yesterday’s ‘patient’ must now be regarded as a ‘consumer’. We have the internet for self-diagnosis, we have social media channels to help evaluate our healthcare options and we have a potent voice in expressing our level of satisfaction or otherwise about the services we experience.

So it’s small wonder that the healthcare industry is increasingly shifting its service models in terms of hospitality, customer experience and customer satisfaction.

The VP Finance at St Joseph’s Health, Jim McManus, is quoted as talking about a patient at one of his hospitals who gave a low score for room cleanliness. When he questioned the patient, it emerged that the room wasn’t dirty; it was simply that the patient had expected a cleaning routine similar to that of an hotel, where one person does all the cleaning tasks in one go.

The fact is, today’s patient expects a level of customer experience completely alien to the traditional healthcare industry. Now they want a personalised service. And if they don’t get it, not only will they take their business elsewhere, they will announce their dissatisfaction to the world.

So what are we going to do about this?


Open the way to communication

Retail sector brands exploit digital tools to discover more about their customers through open discussion and feedback. Why should it be not so when we’re looking at healthcare marketing trends? Why not set up an online community where patients can discuss health provision issues?

Some healthcare businesses do, of course. Cambia Health Solutions already has 2.2 million subscribers to its member-only online community, exchanging views about health issues, comparing insurance providers, rating healthcare facilities and interacting with medical staff.

Some ideas for healthcare providers and insurers:

  • React to healthcare marketing trends by using feedback forms during and after patient visits and act on results at once
  • Create an online community where patients and insurance subscribers can discuss and educate themselves about health issues
  • Use social media and blogs to provide insights into healthcare
  • Monitor these channels to get feedback and resolve issues before they can arise


Create seamless experience across multiple channels

Management consultants PwC talk in terms of ‘moments of truth’ where ‘customers form an impression or make up their mind about future purchases’. What more productive objective for the healthcare industry could there be than to achieve positive ‘moments of truth’ via a seamless experience across multiple channels?

It can be achieved with clearly defined brand guidelines, available to all staff so they can educate themselves and deliver a seamless experience at any point of customer interaction.

You’d expect your medical personnel to show a high level of compassion when interacting with patients and their families. A ‘seamless experience’ implies that this same level of compassion features across all channels – from patients booking follow-up appointments to the content in your online healthcare marketing.

Some pointers:

  • Educate staff about the guidelines on which the brand is built. Set out how the brand is to be represented across all channels and during all interactions with patients
  • Centralise these guidelines and brand assets in one location in an online digital asset management platform. Give access to employees so they can educate themselves and communicate consistently
  • Ensure customers and patients have the same level of service and experience, regardless of channel


Educate and empower all employees to focus on patient experience

Recent research has found that 70 per cent of healthcare consumers attribute ‘staff attitude’ to their positive impression of the experience. Compare that to the retail industry (38 per cent) and the airline, banking and hotel industries (just 33 per cent).

Wow! ‘Staff attitude’ is twice as important in the healthcare industry as it is in the airline or banking industry! But that’s surely understandable; healthcare patients are likely to feel more vulnerable and thus value staff empathy more highly than in interactions in other sectors.

It’s also worth reflecting that peer recommendation in healthcare marketing trends is three times more influential than the hotel or retail industries. It follows that healthcare providers should provide all staff with the skills and resources required to ensure exceptional patient experience.

In short:

  • Create an environment in which staff can educate themselves about how to deliver a high level of patient experience
  • Reward and celebrate staff who deliver the necessary patient experience
  • Take insights from the hospitality industry and apply them to healthcare


Understand patients and offer choice

For ‘convenience’ in the healthcare industry we have the retail industry and the prevalence of smartphones to thank. We know that recent research suggests 65 per cent of patients want to be able to access information about illness and treatment options online or via mobile comms. Letting them to do that easily is going to have positive effect on perception of your brand.

As generation X and millennials come into the healthcare market, it’s crucial for providers and insurers to adapt. PwC’s Customer Experience Radar Research found that ‘young and urban respondents especially value electronic explanation of benefits and mobile wellness tips’.

That said, the research revealed that patients also value convenience in the physical world. They want to access health provision under one roof, at one time.

How to respond?

  • Embrace an ‘anywhere, anytime’ model of information provision, so patients can access what they want, when they want and via channels that suit them best.
  • Where possible, group treatment services together. 69 per cent of respondents to PwC research said they would prefer to receive ‘multiple services in one location’ when they are visiting a health facility.


Orignally posted on Medical Marketing & Media

  1. PwC Health Research Institute – Customer experience in healthcare: The moment of truth –
  2. PwC Health Research Institute – Scoring healthcare: Navigating customer experience ratings –
  3. Micah Solomon Forbes – Improving the hospital patient customer experience (It’s about more than HCAHPS scores) –
  4. Peter Whibley KANA – Health Insurance’s Customer Experience Imperative –