Positive patient experiences have been called the ‘Holy Grail’ of healthcare—and for a good reason. “Today, patients have more care options than ever before,” writes Holly Ragan in D CEO Healthcare. “And with non-traditional providers coming out of the woodwork, healthcare systems are in need of new approaches to create patient experiences that are second to none.”
So, why the focus on patient experiences? Because each interaction has the potential to build or bulldoze patient loyalty.
Cultivating Patient Loyalty Requires More Than Marketing Prowess
In an increasingly competitive healthcare landscape, patient loyalty is a game-changer—and not just because boosting customer retention rates by as little as 5 percent can increase profits by 25 to 95 percent. As the healthcare industry continues to shift away from episodic, transaction-based care to more holistic, value-based care, it needs to strengthen relationships with patients—in sickness and in health.
Robert Braithwaite, CEO of Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, contends, “Organizations must make sure that the patient is not only satisfied but that there's a deep relationship there. And the deeper you can make that relationship, the better opportunity you have to actually impact that person from a health and wellness perspective.” Braithwaite would know; Hoag Memorial was one of the top hospitals in the country for patient loyalty based on a 2018 NRC Health survey of 300,000 consumers.
Other surveys support the importance of experience over marketing prowess when it comes to developing a loyal patient. A Press Ganey report released in December 2018 found:
- Positive experiences make patients five times more likely to select a medical practice than even the most all-encompassing marketing strategy.
- 70 percent of patients say their most recent healthcare visits influence their loyalty to a medical practice.
- In addition to relying on the experiences of family and friends, 71 percent of patients also consult online provider reviews before making an appointment.
- Those reviews make a difference, too. Nearly 70 percent of patients report being influenced by positive or negative reviews.
Why isn’t most healthcare marketing delivering results? Press Ganey suggests that “… traditional strategies, such as online and print advertising, billboards and mass mailings, do not reflect patients’ perceptions of the safety, quality and experience of care, and it is these perspectives that exert the most powerful influence on consumer choice.”
What’s causing the disconnect between healthcare consumers and marketing? Much of it could be down to a lack of relevance.
Using Psychographic Segmentation Enhances Patient Experiences
If patient experiences are the key to cementing loyalty, then healthcare providers need deeper insights into what influences patients’ decisions. “It is essential for marketing to have a seat at the strategy table, working with enterprise leaders to develop a blueprint for engaging consumers with information that speaks to their needs, values and behaviors through channels that will reach them,” says the Press Ganey report.
That’s where psychographic segmentation comes in. Rather than identifying patients based on demographics or diagnoses alone, psychographic segmentation looks at their beliefs related to health and wellness—what their priorities are, how they access health information and what motivates (or limits) behavior change. The psychographic segmentation model developed by c2b solutions identifies five segments, each of which approaches healthcare experiences differently.
Understanding the differences in how individuals approach health and wellness empowers medical practices to fine-tune patient communications for maximum impact. Take two very different segments, which also happen to represent more than half of all healthcare consumers: Willful Endurers and Self Achievers.
- The largest segment (31 percent) is Willful Endurers. Healthcare isn’t a top priority for this ‘live in the moment’ segment. Instead, Willful Endurers do what they want, when they want to and aren’t inspired to act for future health benefits. These hurdles can be overcome, however, when communications are aligned to this attitude. For example, instead of focusing on long-term benefits of specific behaviors, healthcare providers should communicate the immediate benefits. For a Willful Endurer with Type 2 diabetes, this could mean talking about how better control of blood sugars can improve sleep quality NOW rather than focusing on a lower risk of heart or kidney disease in the future. When stubborn patients feel they’re getting immediate value, healthcare providers earn their loyalty.
- The next largest segment (19 percent) is Self Achievers. Health and wellness are a priority for this proactive segment. As the name suggests, individuals in this segment are motivated, goal-oriented patients. Healthcare providers can drive engagement with this group by framing desired health behaviors in terms of achievement, with specific progress measures they can aim for. Self Achievers also research their health concerns, so emphasizing the expertise of a care team and providing health-related resources contributes to better overall patient experience.
It’s a win-win for both healthcare organizations and patients. By aligning marketing messages AND healthcare experiences to patients’ attitudes, providers can meet their expectations for personalized, relevant interactions that lead to better health outcomes and improve patient loyalty.
For more on psychographic segmentation as it relates to patient loyalty, download our whitepaper.