The new world of healthcare is fast becoming patient-centric. More and more patients now actively participate in managing their own care. As competition increases, healthcare providers are following the lead of retail and other highly competitive sectors, by adopting a customer strategy that wins new patients, puts the needs of patients first, and helps patients stay healthy after leaving the hospital. It all starts with a smart, strategic admissions process that makes a great first impression.
Putting patients first.
Customer strategy sounds like a simple concept, but it requires a significant shift in mindset to perceive your patients as customers. They shop and compare, seeking the best medical facility, the most streamlined admissions process, and organizations that provide quality care and put their needs first.
Due to the patient-centric nature of modern healthcare, many providers now place increasing importance on metrics that measure health outcomes and patient satisfaction. These patient-driven metrics can greatly influence the churn rates and profitability of your organization.
The changing healthcare landscape
Today’s healthcare providers face unprecedented challenges:
- Healthcare insurance marketplaces continue to drive competition and empower patients to make informed decisions, while regulatory changes make healthcare coverage available to many people for the first time.
- Patients want more involvement in their healthcare decision-making, such as evaluating alternative treatments, procedures, and exercising choice in medication and pain management. As a result, they’re demanding more flexible healthcare coverage.
- Compliance issues also present major challenges in the healthcare sector. The flow-on effects of grappling with red tape include increased costs, slower engagements, reduced service response time, lower staff productivity and lower quality of care. All are a threat to your customer satisfaction rates.
Developing a patient-centric strategy can help you survive and thrive in the new world of healthcare while containing costs and helping maintain your profitability. Admissions are the foundation of a successful patient strategy that helps you forge strong relationships with your patients. Here are four smart strategies to consider during the patient admission process
1. Personalize each patient’s experience to boost satisfaction.
Patient satisfaction is a critical metric for measuring the success of your admissions process.
Different patients have different wants and needs, which change over time, meaning there’s no one-size-fits-all customer strategy in healthcare. Different segments in your customer base require their own tailored patient strategy. Consider using technology to deliver targeted and personalized messaging, and to ensure patient records are accurate and up-to-date. Your goal should be to make each and every patient feel valued.
Successful patient-focused healthcare starts with a positive admissions experience. Reassure newcomers that you are there to provide the best care, and want their overall experience to be as streamlined and convenient as possible.
Personalized patient admissions includes:
- Targeted communications. Send personalized and relevant emails as well as targeted messages to patients’ smartphones or inboxes.
- Optimized content. Take advantage of SEO to tailor your communications to the needs and preferences of each patient, making it easy for them to find your information on the Internet.
2. Open multiple communication channels.
Consider offering a multichannel onboarding experience that takes advantage of the Internet and mobile devices. When you use a variety of communications channels, it demonstrates to new patients that you are responsive to their healthcare needs and that service is available for them wherever and whenever they need it.
A positive mobile admissions experience makes it easier to migrate patients to cost-effective mobile channels for other interactions beyond admissions. Leveraging mobile channels helps you streamline back-end procedures, ease compliance bottlenecks and generate targeted and personalized messaging. It also frees up your staff to spend more time with patients and less time shuffling paperwork.
Mobile interaction costs are typically lower than labor-intensive traditional channels such as telemarketing or over-the-counter sales, but mobile interaction does more than just reduce patient service overhead. Its true power lies in the significant opportunity to increase interaction with your patients to learn more about them, engage them and offer them targeted messaging.
3. Grab their attention, don’t drive them away.
For a mobile channel strategy to be successful, patients need to be open to hearing from their healthcare provider and be engaged by what they receive.
A smooth mobile admissions experience lays the groundwork for a mobile channel strategy. It establishes SMS-based interactions, persuades your patients to download your app to their mobile device, and encourages them to allow pop-up notifications.
This is where personalized, targeted messaging and optimized content are critical. If you bombard your mobile customers with irrelevant notifications, desktop-formatted content or calls to action that can’t be executed from handheld devices, you may lose potential patients and squander your onboarding investment.
4. Surprise and delight your patients.
Follow the lead of the retail sector by embracing a customer strategy that proactively ‘surprises and delights’ your patients rather than contacting them only when their bill is due.
The idea of delivering discounts, special offers and other benefits is actually a great fit in the healthcare sector where you have a vested interest in encouraging patients to change their habits for the better. The best way to deliver messages that encourage healthy behavior is via mobile devices that can reach your patient, whether they’re jogging in the park or lounging on the sofa.
Many hospitals in America have an admissions process in place for impending patient stays. Emails inform patients about their scheduled stay, including details of where and how they check-in. This personal touch lets them send special requests or ask questions quickly and easily. After their hospital stay ends, you can send follow-up emails, such as patient surveys, to help improve your services.
Patients want a healthcare provider who understands their needs and views them as an individual rather than a number. By implementing an effective multichannel admissions experience, you can improve patient satisfaction and make each individual more receptive to ongoing engagement. Admissions is not a one-off process of signing up a new patient; it is the cornerstone of a successful customer strategy that helps you forge strong patient relationships.