According to a study by Deloitte, hospitals with high patient-reported experience scores have higher profitability and thus, the latest marketing efforts by hospitals are focusing on patient experience to gain a competitive edge.
A recent article in the NY Times, highlighted efforts by the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital outside Detroit, where patients arrive to uniformed valets and professional greeters. Wi-Fi service is free throughout the hospital and patient meals are served on demand 24 hours a day. Members of the spa staff give in-room massages and other treatments.
Absolutely, clinical care is the focus of any medical center and is the utmost responsibility of a health care facility.
But many hospitals are moving towards hotel-inspired features, services and staff training. Medical researchers say such amenities can improve health outcomes by reducing stress and anxiety among patients, while private rooms can cut down on the transfer of disease.
With the emphasis on the bottom line, hospitals market patient experience; they want to create a loyal customer base and attract patients with private insurance who have a choice in where they receive care. People are not just looking at the quality of care (a routine appendectomy is a routine appendectomy), but the hospital’s environment, comfort and convenience.
The same way the hospitality industry competes for business by focusing on the unique customer experience, hospitals are marketing by product line to specific households and focusing on the express environment that will help them “get better”.
For example, hospitals reach out to pre-natal households emphasizing relaxing maternity suites with 24/7 visitation; plastic surgeons tout exclusive 5-star in-room services; gastroenterology departments market early morning colonoscopies with VIP treatment; OB/GYNs offer quality child-care during appointments.
According to Brooke Hollis, an associate director of Cornell’s Sloan Program in Health Administration, not all services need to be expensive. She noted that hospitals can also look for “low-cost, high-impact ideas” like the University of Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital with airline-type amenity kits that include eye masks and ear plugs for patients in semiprivate rooms.
Marketing hospital programs and services is becoming more like marketing in the cruise industry – by focusing on providing a complete patient experience, creating a loyal customer base, and fostering an environment that promotes word-of-mouth recommendations.