Cementing your reputation for the future: The in-person experience

As we noted in an earlier post, results from a recent survey we conducted in partnership with Public Opinion Strategies revealed that trust in hospitals is at an historic high even as people are fearful of returning to in-person medical visits. Now is the moment to leverage and build on that trust while allaying that fear. Here are a few things providers can do now to ensure they don’t squander the opportunity to align each patient interaction with their mission.

Assess your reputation in the wake of COVID-19.

Yes, the overall trust in providers may be high, but you shouldn’t bank on that general finding – what matters is how people view your organization. Have your MarCom team evaluate what people are saying about you through social media and online ratings and review sites (like Google and Yelp). Go back through any stories – local or otherwise – that mention your organization to see what was said and check online versions for comments. Once you know how people view your response to the pandemic, you can begin to craft appropriate long-term communications around the work you did and are going to do.

Highlight the heroes.

If you ran a healthcare heroes campaign during the surge, do it again now. If you didn’t, well, there’s no time like the present. Your staff worked tirelessly and selflessly to care for your community during the pandemic, and in so many cases sacrificed their own health to do it. Tell their stories. Ask people across your organization to submit notes about inspirational moments created by their colleagues. Have a video crew record brief interviews with frontline staff – including environmental services, valets and others – to talk about their experiences.

Educate the public.

About, well, everything. Not only is trust high, people are also paying attention to their health – 84 percent of respondents said the pandemic has caused them to be more focused on their overall health and that they intend to live a healthier lifestyle. Providers should consider developing campaigns to give guidance on overall health and explain related services and resources they provide. This is a way to provide actionable information that people crave while showing the community the hospital’s work in a positive light.

Review the patient experience.

Evaluate every aspect of the in-person interactions patients have when they come in. With volumes still low, there is an incredible opportunity to review (or update) best practices around check-ins, hospital navigation, waiting rooms and more. Look at signage, talking points, scripts and consider whether they truly sound comforting, helpful and caring. Engage support staff in additional training to make sure that when patients return, they are greeted with a smile and a comfortable environment. All of this will create a positive experience that conveys the safety you provide patients in a world still fearful of COVID-19, It cements their trust and makes them advocates for your organization among their friends and loved ones.

David Shifrin