This blog post was written by our guest blogger Susan Maxsween, Director of RMS Healthcare, Practice Transformation, and her Practice Transformation team at Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS).
Every employee has an important role in marketing. Whether a member of patient registration, discharge, administrative, clinical or billing staff, each staff member serves equally as an ambassador of the practice on a daily basis. Surely you understand your patients are in the office because they have an underlying reason for their visit, an acute condition, management of a chronic condition, follow-up visit, annual physical and on and on. Regardless of the purpose, it is the entire practice team’s collective and equal responsibility to make a good first and lasting impression with patients.
As patients ourselves, we know how we want to be treated and we have perceived expectations of what we expect when seeking medical services, regardless of whom the provider of care is or the purpose of the visit. Therefore, we should always be thinking about ourselves as a patient when we engage with our patients. This will result in positive marketing of the physician practice.
Let’s look at the power of “one.” That power of one is the voice of a single patient. A satisfied and engaged patient is more likely to speak highly of the practice, is more likely to share a good experience with their friends/family as well as sharing their experience with others outside of their close connection – this experience of “one” has the ability to spread on to many. Unfortunately, this includes spreading word of a negative experience.
Imagine a patient comes in and has a negative encounter, not because they experienced a negative encounter regarding ongoing management of a chronic condition, but because their experience was driven by an encounter with one of the team members. This negative image and message will likely spread first-hand to their friends/family, colleagues and even further. The difference between the positive and negative encounter, however, is those who hear of the negative encounter, whether first-, second- or third-hand, share the experience at an exponential rate, leaving little control over managing the negative image.
Fortunately, within any practice it is the cumulative role of the caring and compassionate team to strive to ensure every patient has a positive encounter. In essence, the goal is to move beyond the concept of “it is all about us” to “it is all about you,” as a clear and compelling message that it is about the patient and their experience, access and convenience, to name a few. This is positive marketing – demonstrating the high quality the practice delivers.
It should be the goal of all staff – clinical and administrative – to assess the patients experience at all “touch points” throughout their encounter while seeking care. Whether it is ease of appointment scheduling, privacy, check-in/out process, helpfulness and knowledgeable staff, waiting or exam room wait time, it is paramount that you continually evaluate your processes to ensure the highest level of commitment to your patients. This attention to service quality and to the patients is another way in which we work to validate our commitment to marketing as stewards of the practice. Our ultimate goal continues to focus on the patient, extended family and any potential new patients.
Many practices are actively seeking opportunities to enhance patient engagement and overall patient satisfaction. In addition, this work not only provides insight on the overall patient experience while seeking care, but also allows us to tell other patients, current and potential, a very positive story about how patients perceived their experience, which again is a very useful marketing tool. The good news is that you work hard every day to meet the needs of your healthcare consumers. All of these experiences can cultivate the positive impression that patients have when seeking care and carry your mission to provide quality patient care and to exceed the expectations of your patients.
RMS Healthcare, a division of Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc., a premiere healthcare consulting firm, has proven success working with physicians, large multi-site practices, hospitals, physician organizations and ancillary healthcare providers. If you would like more information about RMS Healthcare, please contact our Director of Healthcare – Practice Transformation, Susan Maxsween at SusanM@RMSresults.com or by calling (315) 635-9802.