Ritz Carlton Hospital Consierge Program Is Expanding: Can It Increase Patient Volumes?

July 7, 2010

So your patient comes into the ED with abdominal pain. Like an increasing amount of the population, she is single, here on a corporate move and so has little community. Now she has been diagnosed with a simple appendicitis requiring a minimally-invasive appendectomy. No problem, right?

No problem for your hospital because this is routine to you. BUT not routine to the patient.

Who will call her family in a far away town? Who will feed her dog? Or walk her dog? Who will contact her employer? Who will make sure groceries and a cleaning service show up to her home? Who will deliver meals the first few days?

If you are a smart business, YOU will be the “who” that does all those things. And if you can’t figure out how to do that, you can now contract Ritz-Carlton to do it.

Most trips to the ED are elective. Meaning, if you are not going in a ambulance in a very emergent situation, you choose where to go. You will choose among a set of hospitals that are close and perceived competent.

And any “elective” procedures will be selected by consumers based on the perceived value – like maternity, or most general surgeries, or orthopedics, or even open craniotomies are elective for crying out loud.

One way to build your value reputation is to provide extraordinary customer service. It is true in any business – including the hospital business.

So Ritz-Carlton is now marketing medical concierge service to hospitals after test marketing the concept in the Philadelphia area. Some hospitals have executed this on their own without a vendor. I am not saying concierge service is  a make-or-break thing for your marketing, but the time has come that you have to consider it.


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Understanding Your Social Media Customer Will Increase Patient Volume

June 21, 2010

People turn online first when looking for healthcare information. Understanding the social customer will allow you to engage with them to increase patient volumes.

Here is what you should know about the social customer:

  • learns about new products and brands through social channels and trusts her social network to provide honest feedback about it, as opposed to a brand’s one-way advertising message.
  • is savvy, doesn’t respond well to unsolicited SPAM in her social networks or overly promotional tweets, but is open to relevant information that meets her needs at that particular moment.
  • expects brands to be present and active in the same social venues where she hangs out, listening to her feedback, whether it’s negative or positive.
  • expects you to listen and engage with her, not only when it coincides with an e-mail blast or new feature release, but rather when she needs you. And you better respond fast, in real-time, or she will either move on to a competitor, or tell her friends about her bad experiences.
  • Because the social customer can talk to a brand through many channels at the same time, she expects everyone she talks to from your company to have the same background on her issue. For example, if I complain about an airline on Twitter, I want the representative who engages me there to know my itinerary and the full history of our interaction through various channels.

Bottom line: The social customer owns the relationship, and you need to earn her trust.

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Use Social Media to Create a Regional/National Reach AND Increase Patient Volume

June 17, 2010

Social media tools allow you to generate thought leadership on a local, regional and national level with a limited marketing budget and time expenditure.

Unlike traditional marketing tactics which take large budgets and time commitments to reach a national audience, social media allows you to achieve the same goal in a shorter time with a small financial commitment.

Sounds too good to be true. Social media allows you to engage with your specific target audience at the moment they are looking for information. Take yourself for example, where do you go when you are looking for information? I go to the web.

Being Found Online and Creating Thought Leadership

Follow these five easy steps and you are on your way to being found and famous online. If you do it right, you will convert the traffic into increased patient volume.

  • Create a strategy:  This is the guidepost for your social media program
  • Identify your tools:  Start with 4-5 basic tools
  • Create a routine:  This is a behavioral change and you need to commit to making that change in behavior
  • Content is king:  Start writing. Relevant content is the secret to success
  • Inspect:  Set-up inspections not only of the metrics, but of the effort you and your team are putting into it. What’s measured grows.

Remember, it is not going to be easier tomorrow and you have lots of relevant information people are looking for. Take that information and turn it into patient volume.

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Communicating with Social Media is the Norm, Using it Will Increase Patient Volume

June 15, 2010

I say over and over, the way people communicate today has changed. Consumers expect information to be available at the moment they want it.  If you aren’t “in” the conversation – you don’t exist.  Social media allows you to be found online, participate in the conversation and increase patient volume.

A recent study shows 48% of people check Twitter/Facebook during the night or as soon as they wake up.

The study goes on to show that 1/3 of people have replaced traditional news sources (TV, newspapers) with Twitter and Facebook.

Are you on Twitter and Facebook? What are people saying about you? If you aren’t online, you can’t participate and influence the conversation.

Developing a Social Media Plan

If you aren’t online or aren’t active online, getting started is easy. The key is to take the time to develop your framework and strategy. It all starts with asking yourself these questions:

  • People: Your target audience
  • Objective: What you want to accomplish
  • Strategy: Plan how your relationship with customers will change
  • Technology: Decide what social media technologies to use

Once you have the answers, set-up a 60-day plan to get yourself started. Your framework can last you years and allow you to meet the consumer expectation’s of participation in the conversation.

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With The Right Strategy, Social Media WILL Increase Your Patient Volume

June 11, 2010

Over the last five years, the way people communicate has dramatically changed. More than ever you have powerful social media tools of influence, if used correctly, you will generate traffic which you can convert into  increased patient volume in specific areas.

Don’t know where to start…Start with defining your focus and strategy. This will ensure you stay focused on driving the right patient with the right payer to the right service line.

Forrester Research created an acronym to help keep you on track. P.O.S.T.

  • People: Your target audience
  • Objective: What you want to accomplish
  • Strategy: Plan how your relationship with customers will change
  • Technology: Decide what social media technologies to use

This sounds simple, but it is the key to a successful social media strategy. Today’s world is full of bright shiny objects. Your strategy will keep you on course and give you the opportunity to take advantage of new technologies while driving patient volume.

One thing is true, the way we communicate is going to continue to evolve, but it is never going back to the way it was before. Now is the time for you to engage and influence your target audience through social media.

Finance will thank you.

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Case Study: 4 Hospitals Using Social Media to Increase Volume

June 10, 2010

Social Media is an essential tool to build long-term relationships with patients to increase patient volumes. Don’t think it is possible?

LaunchYourMovement.com showcases 4 case studies of hospitals using social media.

Proactive Outreach

1. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CEO Paul Levy blogs to run a better hospital. Not just for marketing. Truly to get his hospital to run more efficiently and transparently. Rarely will you find a CEO who is such a prolific/transparent writer (and who has such a trusting board). The rest of us benefit from his writing, and more importantly, his efforts in change management.

2. Geisinger uses Twitter/Facebook to recruit gastroenterologists. Why not, if 70% of doctors search for jobs online? Successful recruitment of 1 of the 3 doctors is attributed directly to Geisinger’s Facebook page.

3. Lifespan reaches out to patients and family personally through Twitter. Read the description of how it used Twitter to proactively reach out to patients and family who were visiting its hospital. Patients typically have 2 responses: surprise that the hospital is on Twitter and sincere appreciation for its reaching out personally to them.

4. Ob/gyn practice uses Twitter and Facebook (17-page study in PDF format) to educate patients and facilitate patient-to-patient interaction. With an average of only 8 minutes to spend per patient, these doctors wanted a way to provide deeper and richer information to their patients. They also realized that the interaction among patients is important, too.

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Increasing Patient Volume Through Online Empowerment

June 9, 2010

When you work in healthcare, it’s just as important to understand what you cannot offer your patients, as it is to know what you can. To build patient volume, you need to have a greater awareness of your patients’ needs in contrast to what you’re able to fulfill. And in the case of providing emotional support to patients, you can indirectly offer your patients empowerment by directing them to online support groups.

So, how does this build patient volume? By increasing patient satisfaction.

It’s proven that online communities benefit patients (some of which may be too sick to leave home) by providing a high level of privacy, intimacy and empowerment in the comfort of their own homes. For patients suffering from rare diseases, it’s possible to connect with others dealing with the same issues.

Healthcare providers should acquaint their patients with the availability of free online support groups as a way to connect their patients with others in similar situations. While it’s important to communicate that online communities should not be used for medical consultation, it’s a great way to meet the emotional needs of your patients.

I thought this NY Times article did a great job of conveying the benefits of online patient communities.

While this is not an exhaustive list, here are patient networks you should become familiar with:

PatientsLikeMe – Patient network for those with life-changing conditions

HealthCentral – Clinical resources and networks based on condition

Inspire – Support groups and recruitment for clinical trials

CureTogether – Peer connections and progress tracking

Alliance Health – Portal for a variety for social health networks

Disaboom – Social network for those living with disabilities

Ning – A general social networking site, but patients can find and create their own support networks on a topical basis


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