6 Key Insights on Grateful Patient Programs

Results from a Survey of Health Care Foundation and Development Leaders

Grateful Patient Survey Brief

Ten years ago, progressive institutions began to adopt a more active approach to grateful patient fundraising, focused on improving service levels during the hospital stay and leveraging patient gratitude post-discharge to deepen the development relationship. As more and more philanthropy leaders have invested heavily in launching and advancing grateful patient programs, they've grown to become a mainstay of health care fundraising operations.

In late 2015, the Advisory Board and WealthEngine conducted a survey to better understand the current nature of grateful patient fundraising programs, how they have evolved over time, and where they are heading in the next few years.

Download the research brief to get our top findings and insights from that research, including more details on the six insights highlighted below.

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1. Grateful patient programs are still growing.

The vast majority of survey respondents are planning new investments in grateful patient fundraising over the next one to three years, from adding program elements to launching a new program entirely. In fact, no institutions reported immediate plans to discontinue or scale back their efforts.

2. Engaging physicians in referrals is the top investment for most programs.

Of those who are planning modifications to—or investments in—their grateful patient programs, by far the largest share are prioritizing physician and clinical staff engagement, particularly as it relates to prospect referrals.

3. Providers in affluent communities are more likely to round on patients.

Hospitals and health systems in high-net-worth markets are more likely to provide certain services, particularly patient rounding, to patients as part of their grateful patient programs. Similarly, survey findings showed tendencies toward different types of service inflection based on institution type.

4. Follow-up strategies often prioritize revenue over pipeline growth.

Still largely centered upon mailing campaigns, grateful patient follow-up strategies prioritize bringing revenue in the door over growing the pipeline. But the question of what to do with new grateful patient donors after these first touches is increasingly a top-of-mind issue for CDOs.

5. The outpatient setting still offers a largely untapped opportunity.

On average, responding institutions experience a more than 6:1 ratio of outpatient to inpatient volumes annually. Nevertheless, only a small number are deploying tactics specifically designed for the outpatient setting.

6. Measuring program ROI is uncommon and not standardized.

Many institutions are experiencing positive results through their grateful patient fundraising programs. Nevertheless, evidence from the survey indicates that establishing an industry-wide benchmark on ROI (i.e., revenue over cost) is complicated.

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