Two weeks ago my daughter had an MRI at a local hospital. I had been to the facility before and knew that the hospital offered valet service. True, we could have both walked in under our own strength–the appointment was a scheduled, non-emergent issue, and the weather was pleasant in a nearly always-sunny Las Vegas. But I chose the option. Las Vegas is king for offering this service at virtually every restaurant, store, casino and hotel, so why not accept the convenience offered at a medical facility? For just a few bucks, and a lot less hassle compared to attempting to park in the five-story parking garage, or find the elevator or stairs to get you to where you need to go, I received front door service.
So what does this have to do with health communication? As health communicators we are all aware that patients are more than just patients, they are health care consumers that have more choices in where they elect to receive care, and hospitals are taking note and offering premium services to patients.
My first recollection of this type of high-end service for “normal” people was when I was living in Arizona with my husband and sons. Many friends were pregnant, and in our mommies’ group I’d often hear them talk about their maternity ward “tours” and how they were weighing their options based on the amenities that were offered to the mom and dad. Those amenities ranged from: extra-large flat screen TV’s to plush bathrobes, and gourmet steak and lobster dinner for two. Part of me was jealous that the hospitals I delivered my two boys at didn’t offer such services. It definitely caught my attention and made me want to learn more. Which is exactly the “hook.” Such amenities, and the seemingly endless conversations that ensue between expectant mothers encourage other potential patients to tour the facility, see what they have to offer, and “entice” them to have their birth experience at that particular hospital.
But it’s not just enough to have the services available. You must promote them to the right audience. In a recent article from Ragan Communication, the story addresses the types of services you might find in hospitals that have embraced concierge services at their facility. Additionally, the article points out the following critical areas for marketing your facility’s amenities: designer brochures, and making amenity lists available in all advertising channels,as well as social media outlets.
Gone are the days of simply choosing a hospital because of its proximity to home. Now patients are savvy health care consumers and want to know that the care and amenities that will be provided during a hospital stay will go above and beyond the routine. As health communicators, it is up to us to understand what “perks” our audience is looking for, initiate conversations with key decision makers in your facility and then make that information accessible so that ultimately the patient chooses you.