Engaging Patients in Primary Care

Lessons for Building Loyalty and Care Compliance

Topics: Marketing, Primary Care, Service Lines, Patient Experience, Quality, Performance Improvement, Consumer Marketing, Outpatient Care

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By reading this study, members will learn:

  • How efforts to support compliance and self-management can also strengthen patient loyalty
  • Proactive, targeted outreach strategies for doing so
  • Ways to improve and standardize the patient experience across the ambulatory network

Executive Summary

A new paradigm for patient engagement

Patient engagement: A clinician hears “care compliance”; a marketer hears “loyalty.” As hospitals seek to improve health outcomes, reduce readmissions, and manage chronic disease—while also generating a return on ambulatory investments—they must achieve both.

Trending from bad to worse

Patient engagement remains a significant struggle for most institutions. 90% of adults have difficulty using everyday health information, and fewer than 50% of adults with high cholesterol, depression, or asthma report always following care instructions. Loyalty in the outpatient setting is also low: although 92% of adults rate care continuity as “very important,” only 18% are willing to spend an additional $20-40 per month to maintain the same PCP.

Engagement is particularly low among two “emerging” populations: senior citizens, only 3% of whom have proficient health literacy levels, and projected insurance exchange enrollees, 29% of whom had no interaction with the medical system in the past year.

Marketers well-positioned to support both care compliance and loyalty

Although not traditionally involved in care compliance, marketers can apply their deep expertise in behavior change to educate and motivate patients to improve their health status, strengthening loyalty along the way as they connect with patients more frequently on meaningful topics.

Marketers can also assist clinicians and staff in identifying and acting on opportunities to improve patient experience. By delivering a high-quality experience reinforced by regular, meaningful communication touchpoints, hospitals and health systems can position themselves as patients’ long-term care partners.

Six strategies to strengthen patient engagement

This study details six lessons for using traditional marketing tools—including media campaigns, call centers, and online communities—to engage patients in primary care:

1. Deploy full marketing toolkit to support right-site utilization
2. Transform call center for system navigation and care management.
3. Incorporate clinical data into outreach efforts
4. Customize online experience using clinical data
5. Focus online forums on key patient segments
6. Deliver flawless patient experience

A New Engagement Paradigm

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