Digital Enterprise: Patient Engagement in Healthcare

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Digital is the buzzword today. The primary reason why the buzz exists is that the digital era is about technology transforming the way business is done, whereas earlier technology was just the enabler for business.

The healthcare industry is no exception to the digital age. We are already seeing changes happening on the ground. For example, I remember going to a hospital in Bangalore some months ago for a checkup. Post the visit, and when I was leaving, the front desk associate requested me for a minute of time to provide feedback, and handed over a tablet. 5 taps, less than a minute, and I was done.

Reputation and consumer trust in the brand are critical assets for any business, perhaps more in Health Care than other sectors. Health after all can be a matter of life and death, or at least a matter with a significant impact on happiness and well- being. Reputation and consumer trust gets built over time, and requires the healthcare provider to do two things:

  1. Deliver on the trust by truly caring for every patient [Most providers do this]
  2. Engage with consumers on a regular basis [Not too many providers do this]

In the digital world, keeping consumers engaged is important because reputation can be dented by a single unhappy consumer. Healthcare providers therefore need to focus on branding initiatives that are centered on engaging with their consumers (or patients) in multiple ways. Here are some examples of typical branding initiatives by healthcare providers:

  1. Health Tips – Information sent out by the healthcare provider related to ailments, treatments, best practices, and general wellness information.
  2. Brochures / Printed Material – To promote healthcare services offered as well as for patient information & education.
  3. Health Camps – Organizing events such as complimentary health check- ups.
  4. Video Testimonials – Preparing and posting patient testimonial videos to build up the trust in the brand.
  5. Wellness Events – Sponsoring and/or organizing events related to walking, running, Yoga, and other activities related to wellness.

I see one limitation of such branding initiatives, however. The focus invariably appears to be communication rather than engagement. Communication is about the outward channel from the brand to the consumer whereas engagement is about the inward channel as well, and this is true across sectors. The important point to remember is that reputation and trust in the brand depends on consumer engagement much more than consumer communication. And since the Health Care industry is about reputation and trust, it is now at a turning point: Providers need to transform and complement their branding initiatives with consumer engagement initiatives.

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