High Stakes

By “Refer,” I Mean: Just Tell Me Where to Go

In today’s environment, marketing dollars are precious. Marketing leaders can’t afford to spend gobs of money on marketing and consumer outreach initiatives that just don’t resonate with the typical healthcare consumer. To be a good steward of our limited resources, we have to know what really drives healthcare consumer behavior.

Oftentimes we divert dollars to purchasing the rights to use accolades touting our quality ratings and rankings – to only then turn around and spend even more resources to advertise these honors in digital, print and outdoor advertising.

I consider myself a savvy, knowledgeable healthcare consumer, but when I moved to Nashville six months ago, I didn’t investigate through quality rankings or consumer reviews. I still asked my new friends for a referral to a doctor and hospital.

According to a survey conducted by Klein & Partners, consumers are in fact not seeking out or paying attention to quality rankings, even from reputable organizations such as HealthGrades and U.S. News & World Report. Because in the end, patients will go where their doctor tells them to go. Their second go-to source? Friends or family.

To find out more specifically what drives consumer behavior as it relates to your system, do your own market research. Conduct interviews with patients and providers, both affiliated with your facility and not.

Conduct market research after or in the middle of a significant marketing and communications campaign. Find out what is resonating. What is memorable?

We love data-driven decision-making, although it is often difficult when it comes to measuring communications and marketing initiatives. But one avenue we can always rely on is the satisfaction survey. If you are not reviewing patient satisfaction results already on a regular basis – start.

When reviewing patient satisfaction results, I inevitably skip right to the bottom. Because the last couple questions are always the most important when it comes to our decision-making.

  • How did you hear about us? (This question isn’t on HCAHPS, but if you do additional surveying, it is a good idea to add.)
  • Would you recommend this hospital to your friends and family?


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