Healthcare is a booming business. Changing insurance rules and shifting demographic needs means that more than ever, hospitals are a crucial part of the community. But that doesn't mean hospitals don't have to compete, or that there won't be difficulty with your customers. That's where hospital reputation management comes in; it allows hospitals to take control of how they're seen online. Here are nine tips any facility needs for effective hospital image management.
1. Answer The Question: What Makes Your Hospital Different?
The first question you need to answer in hospital reputation management is, why my hospital? What makes it different from the other hospitals in your town, county, or state? Why should patients come to your hospital for their procedures? Is it the quality of your staff and doctors? The latest medical technology? Your unique suite of specialists? Sit down and work out what, precisely, is what you want to communicate.
2. Think About Your Audience
Next, think about the patient base you're looking to attract. This is actually a far easier step in the process than you might think. Often many hospitals are defined by the staff they have and the needs they meet in the community, and your hospital marketing strategy is often very simply built off of that. However, it is worth looking at patient demographics and a community's health to check for specific issues that commonly affect the people there. For example, if you're in a community with a high percentage of seniors, you might want to focus your campaign around elder care and treatment of common medical problems among seniors.
Another factor to look into is how many of your patients pay for their services. One of the biggest problems in hospital image management is ensuring that your patients know, before they walk through the door, that their insurance will be accepted. Make it a part of your hospital reputation design strategy to talk about what customers can use to pay for their medical care, so that they won't be worried when they book an appointment.
3. Quality Matters More Than Quantity In Hospital Reputation Management
Anybody can buy a lot of airtime on local radio stations and buy banner ads on the Internet. But while those are effective tools for raising awareness of a product, keep in mind that most of your audience will be looking at other aspects of the campaign. They want to be reassured that they're getting high-quality medical care from a professional facility. Look at any marketing you do as a job interview of sorts; do you show up in a T-shirt and jeans with messy hair, or do you wear your best and have your hair just so?
4. Set Clear, Reasonable Goals
Ambition is always a good thing in medical facility reputation management, but it needs to be tempered with realism. No hospital becomes a healthcare destination in a city or state overnight. Set reasonable goals you can reach within your budget and that you can achieve over time. It'll be a lot less stressful, and it will give you effective milestones to demonstrate how the campaign is working.
5. Have A Clean And Professional Website
Next, you've got to ensure that patients will be able to find you online and have the tools they need to book an appointment. Again, knowing your audience will be crucial to creating the proper site. Focus on something that's clearly laid out and simple to use. For example, if you post a directory to your hospital staff, make sure that this directory is up-to-date and clear. The little touches matter.
6. Build A Strong Social Media Presence
Social media is vital to hospital image management; it gives you a cheap, effective method to test new marketing ideas and stay in touch with patients and their families. Even better, that contact is a two-way street; your marketing team will be able to field questions, reach out to staff, and post updates and other information easily and quickly.
Furthermore, it's multimedia as well. Remember that in addition to text, you can post pictures and video, making your social media feed an effective tool.
7. Involve Your Staff In Your Hospital Image Management
Part of any hospital's marketing campaign should be highlighting its staff. Many patients, as any doctor can tell you, are nervous about going into the hospital for even the simplest of procedures, especially if the primary care physician they generally see for treatment won't be taking the lead. By featuring your staff, and emphasizing points such as their experience and friendliness, you'll both put patients at ease, and attract more patients for your staff to meet.
It also allows you to show off your staff and their experience. Every patient likes to know their doctor is experienced, confident, and knows what they're doing, and having your oncologist, for example, discuss the steps of chemotherapy in a short video in a confident and informed manner will reassure even the most nervous patient.
8. Your Patients Are Your Best Advertisers
There is, simply put, no one that a potential patient trusts more when it comes to a hospital than a former patient. If a patient contacts you with a positive experience they'd like to share, take a moment to share their experience on social media, or ask them if they'd like to record a video. Similarly, on social media, you can share photos of happy patients, staff, and others. Just be sure to get permission for any photos your hospital doesn't take before sharing; part of hospital reputation building is showing care and courtesy towards the privacy of your patients.
9. Collect And Apply Feedback As Part Of Your Hospital Reputation Campaign
Finally, and most importantly, pay attention to feedback your campaign collects, both about your hospital marketing plan and your hospital itself. There's no such thing as the perfect hospital, of course, but patient feedback is valuable in that it constantly helps your hospital to improve and become better.
If you need help with hospital reputation strategy, contact ReputationDefender. We'll help you assess, plan, and implement an image management campaign to help your hospital put its best face forward. Give your staff the best, with ReputationDefender.