Patient loyalty - how the game has changed
The war for patient loyalty is not being fought on superior clinical outcomes anymore.Clinical outcomes are no more important for a hospital than the safety record is for the airline. A favourable outcome is expected, even taken for granted.
Lack of complaints does not mean automatic loyalty from the patients towards the hospital. Many hospital management professionals are lulled into thinking that no patient complaints mean they are doing well. Unfortunately, this is not true. Our research indicates that only 4 out of 100 unsatisfied customers complain. The rest of them punish the business with their negative word of mouth publicity.
So what drives patient loyalty? Hospitals are winning patient's minds by the positive impressions they create in their patient interactions. The best hospitals know that their competition may not be another hospital, but the best service provider anywhere in any industry. When a patient/attender/visitor evaluates his experience of a hospital's reception, he is evaluating it against his experience of the best reception he has had earlier - may be at a hotel or a resort. Same is true when it comes to other areas of operations such as nursing, housekeeping, security, parking and billing.
Hospitals that are designing their patient experience programs around this paradigm are winning. Are you one of them? Do you know what are the primary drivers of loyalty in each area of patient interaction at your hospital? Are your staff aware of them, and are they designing their processes to make the best possible impressions?