Is Staff Engagement the New Marketing in Healthcare?

It may not shock you to know there are still healthcare marketing professionals out there who believe the best way to make a “splash” is to spend $50,000 on a billboard contract. But in reality, job satisfaction among staff members is the most productive marketing strategy to invest in. In other words, employee engagement is the new marketing in healthcare. 

Research clearly shows that improving employee engagement increases patient satisfaction, a vital component to the success of any customer service-related business.   

Healthcare marketing in the 21st century is an intricate (yet straightforward) affair where patient experience is paramount. The numbers back it up: healthcare organizations that deliver a “superior” customer experience achieve, on average, 50% higher net margins than organizations that provide “average” customer service. Enhancing an employee’s experience in the workplace results in:

  • Greater patient satisfaction
  • Improved call center efficiency
  • Decreased turnover
  • A better bottom line

If your healthcare organization hasn’t recognized the importance of employee engagement, it’s high time you did: 

You’re in the people business.

And healthcare, perhaps more than any other realm, often touches the most intimate and personal aspects of people’s lives. That means your entire staff needs to recognize it, embody it, and act accordingly. They need to understand the critical role they play in providing excellent customer service to their patients. And that can only come through employee engagement and training.

Cheerful stomatologist and assistant showing medical report to patient Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

Doing Employee Engagement Right

Companies like Southwest Airlines, Dreamworks, and Zappos have become the gold standard where employee engagement is concerned, and hospitals and medical practices can and should emulate them. These companies know first hand that an engaged workforce leads to increased productivity, happier customers, and stable revenue growth and profitability.

A generation ago, patients had minimal customer service expectations from medical providers. But times have changed. With the advent of digital marketing, online reviews, and social media, healthcare organizations are held accountable for every facet of a patient’s experience, including:

  • Website and social media 
  • Phone communication
  • Quality and comfort of the lobby or waiting room
  • Wait times
  • Friendliness of front-line staff
  • Quality of treatment and care by medical staff
  • Ease and transparency of billing
  • Follow up

Your patients judge you with every interaction they have with your business, whether it’s online, on the phone, or in your office. They expect your website to be as efficient and user-friendly as Amazon, and they expect your reception area staff to be just as sensitive to their needs as the Ritz Carlton. Those are high standards, but healthcare organizations answering the customer service bell are reaping the financial rewards

Embrace consumerization of healthcare with an increased focus on customer service by ensuring patients are engaged throughout the entire referral process resulting in a better patient experience and increased loyalty to their providers.

Improve Patient Experience

But where do customer service and the patient experience start? 

It begins and ends with your employees. Medical marketing in 2020 is now a team sport and goes well beyond the quality of a physician’s care. Patients today are empowered and have many healthcare options. You may be the best doctor in the world, but if your practice isn’t providing the very best in patient experience and customer service, you’ll soon find yourself on the outside looking in (to an empty waiting room).

The interaction a patient has with every staff member affects their overall perceived experience at the clinic. Bottom line: engaged and inspired employees who provide better experiences are less likely to leave their jobs and translate into engaged and loyal patients.

Man in white scrub suit massaging man in blue scrub suit Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels

Your Patients Are Tuned In

Patients are aware of the atmosphere within your practice. If there is negativity swirling around your office, they will sense it. Disgruntled or unmotivated employees can do almost as much damage to your practice’s reputation as a missed diagnosis. It’s easy to tell when someone is happy at their job or whether they are miserable and would rather be somewhere else.

It’s in your best interest to invest in engaging your employees. Almost 80% of people who leave their jobs indicate a “lack of appreciation” as their primary reason for quitting. Employees need to feel like they have value, that their work is appreciated, and that they are being listened to by management. They yearn to make a positive contribution to the organizations in which they work. Train them, educate them, and allow them to make a difference within your practice.

When you engage your employees, you will attain a deep commitment to your organization that will pay enormous dividends down the road.

The Proof Is In the Pudding

Here are two examples that show how investing in your employees can pay off in terms of patient satisfaction. A large orthopedic practice (with 9 locations and over 25 physicians) implemented an ongoing employee engagement and training program at their practice. The results of the training program were striking:

  • The practice received almost three times the number of positive online reviews since the training program started
  • More than 90% of employee participants said the training was beneficial and helped them understand their role at the practice
  • 77% of employee participants said they’re now better equipped to do their job

Second, an independent physical therapy and rehabilitation practice with over 20 office locations across the state of Florida created and implemented an employee-focused social media plan to help the practice engage employees and reach current and potential patients throughout the region.

The numbers over the six-week period spoke for themselves. With zero dollars invested for advertising on social media, the practice saw:

  • +612% in engagement across the board (3,030)
  • +427% in awareness (Mentions and Shares)
  • +255% in impressions (138,671)
  • +221% in clicks (2,364)
  • +143% in appointment requests/contact forms filled on the website (199)

Not only were the employees inspired and passionate about the contest, but that enthusiasm spread to patients who couldn’t resist the fun. The result was a wave of passion that stretched from staff to patients and then back to the practice.

People taking group picture Photo by fauxels on Pexels

Happy Employees = Happy Patients

Your employees will perform better when your organizational mission is clear, when you recognize their contributions, and when you listen to their ideas and concerns.

By fostering a committed, energized, and satisfied workforce, you’ll soon realize increased patient satisfaction, enhanced quality of care, and higher patient loyalty. Turnover rates will drop, and you’ll retain talented, essential team members. Meaningful employee engagement is no longer a nice extra to have on your plate. It is critical for a healthy bottom line.

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Jennifer Thompson serves as President at Insight Marketing Group. She founded the medical marketing company in 2006 after an unsuccessful run for political office (which she went on to win in 2010 & 2014). Jennifer has two decades experience in marketing in the areas of technology, retail and medical for small businesses and Fortune 100 companies. She’s a serial entrepreneur who wakes up every day at 4 am ready to change the world. When it’s time to recharge, Jennifer enjoys being on the water and dreaming up her next big idea.

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