Transforming Patients Into Hospital Advocates

Hospital advocates

This post was originally published on SHSMD.

Women have been a powerful force in purchasing decisions for decades, and nowhere is that more evident today than in healthcare decision-making. Marketers who don’t have a strategy to target messaging to women in ways that reflect that reality are missing out. Here’s why:

The Golden Opportunity 
Patient testimonials are a powerful force to employ in a word-of-mouth marketing campaign on social platforms where women spend their time. When women who are shopping for healthcare see an honest patient testimonial that tells a compelling story about a journey back to health, they’re hooked. In 30 seconds, a testimonial can show how a particular hospital provided care, why that hospital was the best choice and why anyone with a similar problem should seek care at that hospital.

To make these campaigns particularly effective, focus on the woman as the decision-maker. Women are often portrayed passively in advertising, and recent social movements have made them more aware of and potentially sensitive to this. When a testimonial from a female patient focuses on the points in her journey when she had a choice and chose the hospital she did, this can create an emotional connection between the hospital brand and female healthcare shoppers.

To build testimonial campaigns, reach out to the patients you know are satisfied with their care; these patients can act as your brand ambassadors. A good way to ensure you have a lot of satisfied patients is to meet multiple dimensions of their needs. Hospitals can show they’re focused on the entire patient journey by providing services like valet parking and easy online systems that track appointments, test results and bills; by treating visiting family members with respect; and by providing hospital amenities that go above and beyond.

The Questions That Matter
When a patient seems particularly pleased with her outcome, reach out: Ask if she’d be willing to share her experience with others. To boost the quality of testimonials, instead of asking yes/no questions, focus on open-ended questions, such as:

  • Why did you choose our hospital (or health system) versus any other?
  • How did we help you?
  • How would you describe your experience with our doctors and facilities?
  • Why would you recommend a friend with a similar issue seek care here?

Testimonials should appear in multiple channels in a health system’s advertising efforts. Consider tactics like devoting a section of the hospital’s website to them; adding patient quotes to service line landing pages; building print, TV and radio campaigns around them; and, most importantly given the stats above, peppering them into your social strategy — especially with videos, which are gaining more and more ground.

Patient testimonial campaigns are inexpensive to produce, are great for conveying brand authenticity, and they help women make an emotional connection to a brand. Satisfied patients are a hospital’s best advocates — so make the most of it and offer them a platform to share their stories.

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