Healthcare lags behind in customer satisfaction, PR

WASHINGTON, DC: Championing customer satisfaction is the best way for companies in the healthcare sector to resuscitate their blemished reputations.

WASHINGTON, DC: Championing customer satisfaction is the best way for companies in the healthcare sector to resuscitate their blemished reputations.

WASHINGTON, DC: Championing customer satisfaction is the best way

for companies in the healthcare sector to resuscitate their blemished

reputations.



This was one of the key messages delivered in a talk last week before

the PRSA’s National Capitol Chapter by Fleishman-Hillard SVP and

incoming PRSA chair-elect Kathy Lewton.



Lewton said the atmosphere of diminishing trust within the healthcare

industry has engendered a need to build greater bonds between medical

practitioners and their patients. Since many hospitals and physician

groups lack a formal structure to monitor whether their patients are

satisfied, PR could well be the answer.



Lewton believes healthcare practitioners should look to the retail

sector for answers. ’Too often, the answers to improving healthcare are

presented as only a matter of branding hospitals, HMOs or physician

groups, rather than working to provide greater service,’ she said.



Lewton pointed to HMOs as one industry group that was forced to learn

the hard way. In the early ’90s, few HMOs had PR representatives. But

after a barrage of negative news coverage about customer

dissatisfaction, the industry was forced to acknowledge the value of PR

to help address service issues.



Lewton also noted that while some patients feel empowered by the amount

of medical information now available, most do not. Indeed, she said many

are confused by the overload, particularly when rival healthcare

providers play a ’blame game’ for poor service.



’We need to be the good guys again,’ she said, stressing the need for PR

pros to serve as catalysts for greater cooperation among doctors, HMOs,

hospitals and patients.



Lewton cited one program - an effort in Columbus, OH in which competing

hospitals worked with pharmaceutical companies and doctors to immunize

children - as the type of cooperation that is needed.



’It had a huge impact - not just on the health of the community, but on

how healthcare organizations were perceived,’ she said.



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