Using the Power of Empathy in Healthcare Marketing

by | Jul 4, 2018 | Consumer Engagement, Healthcare Industry Insights

See things from your patients’ perspective to effectively build trust and differentiate your brand.

In an indus­try that seems increas­ing­ly dri­ven by rev­enue, tight time­lines and shrink­ing bud­gets, tak­ing time to be tru­ly empa­thet­ic with the indi­vid­u­als you serve may feel like an unaf­ford­able lux­u­ry. Using empa­thy and its pow­er when craft­ing health­care mar­ket­ing cam­paigns offers an oppor­tu­ni­ty to reach peo­ple on a human level.

Invest­ing time and emo­tion into under­stand­ing what patients and fam­i­lies are expe­ri­enc­ing may take an emo­tion­al toll, whether you are a clin­i­cian, med­ical pro­fes­sion­al or health­care mar­keter. It may also present chal­lenges that can seem insur­mount­able when you are removed from the point of care yet held account­able for the patient expe­ri­ence. When we say “meet your cus­tomers were they are,” empa­thy is a focal point of this message.

Still, empa­thy is a key com­po­nent in today’s mar­ket­ing indus­try, attract­ing audi­ences and inspir­ing cus­tomers. Accord­ing to a study pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Con­sumer Mar­ket­ing, expert tes­ti­mo­ni­als strength­ened the per­sua­sive nature of hope-based appeals to audi­ences. In con­trast, tes­ti­mo­ni­al mes­sages from patients were not as effec­tive as hope-based appeals.

This com­pas­sion­ate approach is espe­cial­ly crit­i­cal in health­care, where the audi­ence has a nat­ur­al aver­sion to the clin­i­cal ser­vices offered and often feels at their most vul­ner­a­ble when inter­act­ing with your orga­ni­za­tion. This was a “Eure­ka moment” yield­ed by a recent con­sumer seg­men­ta­tion study con­duct­ed by Novant Health, and the dis­cov­ery inspired the mar­ket­ing team to imple­ment strate­gies to edu­cate physi­cians around enhanc­ing the patient experience.

Defining Empathy

Empa­thy is a qual­i­ty that enables a per­son to under­stand what anoth­er per­son may be feel­ing or expe­ri­enc­ing. It is a skill that can be learned, pol­ished, and perfected.

To increase your per­son­al abil­i­ty to be empa­thet­ic and guide physi­cians and oth­er col­leagues on ways to demon­strate com­pas­sion, start by being more obser­vant of oth­ers dur­ing con­ver­sa­tions. Note how body lan­guage and facial expres­sions shift accord­ing to the sit­u­a­tion. Take time to talk with fam­i­ly, friends, and cowork­ers and lis­ten when they describe sce­nar­ios that have had an emo­tion­al impact on them. Test your skills by ask­ing peo­ple with whom you are close if your read­ing of their par­tic­u­lar expe­ri­ence is accurate.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is also essen­tial in fos­ter­ing trust. Accord­ing to this Forbes arti­cle, “Patients long for infor­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion through­out their med­ical jour­neys. They want to receive atten­tion and prop­er treat­ment for their con­di­tions. There also want to be informed of what to expect every step of the way.”

How Empathy Can Enhance a Business

Patient Leader Net­work WEGO Health out­lines ways that empa­thy can inspire patients and boost your company’s bot­tom line, including:

  1. Improved patient out­comes. Stud­ies indi­cate that patients expe­ri­ence few­er com­pli­ca­tions when cared for by empa­thet­ic providers.
  2. Bet­ter com­pli­ance. Patients who feel con­nect­ed to and trust their providers are more like­ly to adhere to rec­om­men­da­tions, such as tak­ing med­ica­tions as pre­scribed and fol­low­ing health­ful lifestyle behaviors.
  3. Improved sat­is­fac­tion from patients. When you make patients feel like indi­vid­u­als instead of num­bers on a wait­ing list, they are more like­ly to trust your orga­ni­za­tion and rec­om­mend your ser­vices to friends and family.

Tun­ing in to patients at your facil­i­ty or health­care sys­tem pro­motes heal­ing. Using empa­thy as a tool and guide in health­care mar­ket­ing may pay off for every­one involved in more ways than one.

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