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
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.