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Word of Mouth – The “Gold Standard” Of Recommendations

In today’s consumer driven world, dominated by social media, word of mouth remains the “gold standard” of recommendations.

Healthcare can learn much from the retail world, which has transformed and raised expectations around what it means to be truly valued as a customer. Hospitals must also go “above and beyond” to exceed expectations by raising the bar, introducing innovation and delivering higher standards of patient satisfaction and patient care.

“Word of mouth” recommendations

People still trust the opinion of friends, family and colleagues when it comes to recommendations. If a friend or relative works in healthcare, they are typically your first choice, your ‘go to’ person, for referrals. Oftentimes, their willingness to share their experience of how an individual or a hospital went above and beyond is what carries the most weight in their decision making process.

Your hospital’s reputation is built on these informal word of mouth recommendations.

Your hospital’s reputation is built on informal word of mouth recommendations. Share on X

We have all been patients.

We have all visited hospitals.

We have all accompanied friends and family members on their healthcare encounter.

We have all had good and bad experiences.

We all have opinions, and deliver our own word of mouth recommendations.

The question is, what drives a good versus a bad reference?

Or, perhaps more importantly, how can a hospital influence these decisions proactively?

“Word of mouth” and your hospital’s reputation

Like all businesses, hospitals need to protect their reputation within their community.

The patient as a consumer and the patient experience are both high on the priority agenda for healthcare leaders. Every hospital is keenly aware of how much their ‘reputation within the community’ matters and is affected by the type of hospital experiences their patients share.

For example:

“I had to wait for 4 hours in that Emergency Room to be seen- I was thirsty, hungry, and had no change to even buy a drink from the machine. No one seemed to notice or care – everyone was too busy running around.”

“I was so tired, lonely, so frightened, so worried.  Of all people, the cleaning lady stopped, put down her mop and quietly comforted me. She was so kind, and her calm voice and caring smile was so sweet. I don’t know what I would have done if she hadn’t taken the time out to be with me.”

“My daughter was in that hospital…I never saw anything like it- everything was sparkling clean- it reminded me of the old days when Sister Mary Catherine inspected every room with a white glove. I felt like I was in a five star hotel!”

“Don’t go to that place! They left my uncle in the hall for 2 hours”

“You have to go to my hospital- they are the best! My doctor sits with me and explains everything! If I don’t understand, he smiles and explains again…he draws pictures and makes me feel so safe. I wouldn’t go anywhere else- everyone in my family has had great experiences there.”

The invaluable role of real-time feedback

For every healthcare leader, it would be preferable to receive this feedback while your patient is still in your hospital, rather than receiving poor patient satisfaction scores post-discharge – or seeing a damaging comment ‘go viral’ on social media.

The value of real-time feedback empowers your organization to:

  • Demonstrate that your hospital prioritizes the patient experience and patient care, and responds rapidly to their concerns.
  • Share positive responses and success stories (with patient permission) on your website.
  • Receive patient ideas and suggestions of how to enhance and improve your services.
  • Make process improvements based on actionable insights, delivered from the patient’s perspective.
  • Address patient issues immediately.
  • Apologize and address issues raised before word of mouth can damage your reputation.
  • Use the positive experience of your patients, and their subsequent word of mouth recommendations, to boost your reputation within the community
  • Gain a reputation as a hospital that listens to and respects your patients’ opinions, and welcomes – and actively promotes a platform for – their feedback.

The bottom line reality

All healthcare providers are constantly being assessed, evaluated, and reviewed by patients.

Hospital web-based ratings are published by numerous government and commercial organizations. These includes CMS-Hospital Compare, HealthGrades, The Leapfrog Group, CareChex, and WhyNottheBest.

Social media is a reality that your hospital must recognize. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google and Instagram are a constant presence, with experiences and comments shared in real-time.  Those experiences and reviews are a mix of good and bad, true and false, and frequently reveal customer service failures.

Healthcare is not exempt. Word of mouth stories are being shared by patient-consumers on a daily basis, even as you are reading this article.

All exert an enormous influence on a hospital’s reputation.

The solution is iSUGEZT

The plethora of information is overwhelming, but an innovative solution exists for all healthcare providers!

  • iSUGEZT provides a platform for real-time access to valuable and actionable insights for your hospital.
  • Access to this feedback, coupled with the ability for early intervention while the patient is being treated in your facility. can be a game-changer.
  • Information obtained from patients and their families in real-time and on-site at your hospital, and when they are fresh on their minds is possible.
  • Real-time feedback can empower your patients, help build a positive reputation, engage and celebrate employee efforts, and help boost HCAHPS scores – a win-win for all.

Healthcare innovation from iSUGEZT.

Discover the pro-active path to patient satisfaction.

References

1. Yaraghi N, Wang W, Gao G, Agarwal R
How Online Quality Ratings Influence Patients’ Choice of Medical Providers: Controlled Experimental Survey Study; J Med Internet Res 2018; 20(3):e99; DOI: 10.2196/jmir.8986

2. Hong, Y. A., Liang, C., Radcliff, T. A., Wigfall, L. T., & Street, R. L. (2019).
What Do Patients Say About Doctors Online? A Systematic Review of Studies on Patient Online Reviews. Journal of medical Internet research21(4), e12521. doi:10.2196/12521