Are you telling your patients what they want to hear, or are telling them what you want them to hear? It’s a valid question in the age of pandemic because there is a difference between the two thoughts—a large chasm in some cases.
|Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay|
As a potential answer to the headline question, there is one question you should ask yourself that is fact-based. But the adage “never ask a question you don’t want an answer too” applies. You may get an answer you never wanted in the first place.
Is telling patients what you want them to hear driving changes in your hospital or health system market share?
Since the 1990s, when the talks began about consumerism in health care in the Clinton administration, hospitals and health systems have been telling patients what they want them to hear, not what the patient wants to hear. I see print and electronic advertisements. I see social media and banner ads. etc., etc., etc.
When the primary research market share reports come in, I’d be willing to bet that market share changes among competing hospitals in a given geographic area is only around one or two percent and driven more by physician admitting behavior.
|Image by Paul Brennan from Pixaby|
Hospitals have continued to close and affiliate or merge with health systems as patient admissions declined and payers restricted networks. Now, I am not saying that just telling patients what you wanted them to hear is the sole cause for loss of hospital independence and closure, but it is a contributing factor.
Think about this for a moment.
For 30 years now, we have been telling patients all about our facilities and new buildings. Our most recent and most fantastic high-tech equipment, testing, and diagnostics paired with how we care about the whole person and Centers of Excellence. All the while, your competitors have been doing the same thing.
Don’t you think patients after all these years already know what you do? Do patents come to your website via a home page entry to learn about you? Or are they coming into the website in specific areas to know some information they need as part of a self-directed Google search?
That is the difference between telling patients what you want them to hear versus what they want to hear.
As hard as we all try, hospitals and health systems tend to focus on the "all about us" of information that supports that idea. It is much easier to be all about us than to be patient-focused informationally. Patients are looking for not the feature information of what you want to tell them, but an answer to their question.
It’s the pandemic driving the informational bus.
In the age of a pandemic, patients are looking for leadership from the hospital. They are looking to understand how to stay safe and healthy. They are looking to trust the hospital again after being sacred by the first surge and changes in care and how they access care. Patients and the community are suffering from pandemic fatigue and the relentless 24/7 news coverage, political leadership gaslighting, conspiracy theories, false and dangerous misinformation, rising case count, and the death toll for the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
Patients are looking for public health leadership from the hospitals.
Sometimes, we need to tell patients not what we want them to hear but what they want to hear.
|Image by fancycrave1from Pixabay|
As an example, removed somewhat from healthcare but not, I write a fun blog that I started in March 2019, Perceptions, Observations and Musings of an Old Man. I have spent an extraordinary amount of time, 22 posts to be exact, on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Posts intended to provide answers to questions and different ways to cope.
I would highly suggest that you look at some of the posts for ideas on the information they want, not what you want to give them. Leadership in a pandemic means we step out of our comfort zones and become accountable and responsive to what is needed, not what we want. It may not be healthcare as we know it either.
“22 Old Man Blog Posts for Surviving the Worldwide COVID-19 Resurgence” https://bit.ly/3kNMaPw
Take charge and lead.