A New Perspective on Marketing Hospitals From a Patient POV

Compassion is key to building trust for your hospital’s female patients.

I recently had a bicycle accident that left me with a broken elbow and a referral for surgery. While it wasn’t fun, it was a good opportunity to experience the patient journey from a different perspective than my usual view as a hospital marketer. What I learned along the way led to some surprising conclusions.

After I found out my elbow was broken, I was referred to a surgeon. The day of my appointment with the surgeon, I pulled up to a beautiful state-of-the-art medical complex. The waiting area was clean and well-appointed, and their technology was up to date. The receptionist asked me to fill out multiple forms on a clipboard.

Having a broken elbow makes writing with that hand difficult. I said I wasn’t sure I’d be able to complete the paperwork, and the receptionist told me to just do the best I could. She offered no assistance, which I found surprising, as there was no one else in line waiting to speak with her.

After the paperwork hurdle, I was shown to a well-equipped room with cushioned chairs. I was directed to sit on a tiny stool. When I asked if I could use one of the chairs instead, the nurse said the doctor wanted me to sit on the stool, and that if he was more than 15 minutes late, I could move to a chair.

I felt like I was back in third grade.

The doctor eventually came in and explained the surgery. I told him I was concerned about what would happen afterward, as I didn’t have anyone who could help me and I wasn’t sure what I would and wouldn’t be able to do. He remained focused on the actual surgery and offered no information on aftercare.

I left the facility feeling like I didn’t matter a whit to them. While their office was beautiful and up to date, my experience with the people inside it was so unpleasant that I immediately sought out a different surgeon and hospital.

Research detailed in the Harvard Business Review shows that women highly value their trust in a physician as a measure of the quality of care that physician provides. Trust is built of many components, but its basic foundations are compassion and understanding. If a physician, let alone his or her entire practice or hospital, showed such a lack of concern while I stood in front of them asking for help, what shortcuts might they take during a surgery, when I would be unable to speak up for myself?

I think I’ll take my business elsewhere, thanks.

While there’s certainly a place for hospital marketers to emphasize advanced technology, physician expertise, and state-of-the-art procedures, it’s important to ensure this isn’t at the expense of something much simpler: the trust their patients can have that the patient’s problem is important to them, and a clear message that they respect the patient.

It sounds easy, yet this basic mistake cost the first surgeon I visited my business.

Kathy Selker
I’m Kathy Selker. My work as CEO of Northlich, a Cincinnati-based healthcare marketing agency, has taught me a great deal about how hospitals and health systems can best connect with women to make the most positive impact in their lives.
Related Posts
Why Internal Hospital Marketing Campaigns Matter
The Millennial Woman's Influence on Hospital Marketing
The Millennial Woman’s Influence on Hospital Marketing

Leave a Comment