The cost of silence in health care client communication

October 18, 2017 / by Rebekah Meyer

iStock-186850221.jpgThe health care industry is facing a patient loyalty problem. 

According to a study, only 4% of complaints about doctors in online reviews were actually about the health care received. The remaining 96% were about customer service. Poor communication was the biggest problem, racking up 53% of complaints.  

Another unsettling statistic: while doctors believe almost 80% of their patients are completely satisfied with their care, only 39% reported being so. And while doctors think the majority of patients switch due to changes in insurance or location, patients most frequently cite better customer service.   

Pair those statistics together, and it’s easy to see a patient loyalty crisis is approaching in the health care industry. Doctors see a high amount of satisfaction in the patient room, but once a patient leaves that room, they feel unvalued. And that feeling of neglect is driving patients to other practices.

This may sound astonishing, but consider the world that patients live in. With very few pieces of data, Netflix can predict how much I will like another TV show, and Amazon manages to predict exactly what I want to purchase next. My utility company lets me know when my power is likely out, offers a map showing where current outages are, and follows up to make sure my power actually returned when their system says it did. Good customer service is not relegated to one industry, and no industry is safe from those expectations.

In a world where companies show so much care and personalization, what does silence sound like?

Practices that want to retain their patients will look to communication personalization.

Many health problems come around in predictable patterns. Sometimes, that’s by time of year: allergy sufferers can get an email with tips on how to mitigate symptoms in early spring, and parents will receive a fun video teaching children to avoid germs in the new school year.

But client contact can also be built on other predictable patterns. People who go in for common surgery may need tips on avoiding infection early on, and later, tips on exercise appropriate for each stage of recovery. For OB-GYNs, a wealth of personalized streams can be built based on due date, as well as particular challenges in each stage of pregnancy, or even based on if it is the patient’s first, second or third child.  

To retain patients in the future, each health provider must look at their own practice from the patient’s point of view. They see silence as a lack of care, from the very people to whom they entrust their health, their children’s health. 

How will you show them that your practice cares? 

When you’re ready to start communicating proactively, contact us at CHARGE to learn more about proactive content marketing and how to keep your patients engaged.

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