The world is saturated with marketing, from the gigantic billboards lining the highways to the advertisements that pop up on your Facebook while you’re scrolling in bed at home.
What if there was another way to market to patients that was more than just an image or a video?
What if there was a way to help your patients feel strongly connected to your service, and what if you could do it without the gimmicks of advertising?
What if you could set your urgent care patient at ease the moment they walk through your door?
Experiential marketing makes all of these ideas possible for the modern medical practice.
What is Experiential Marketing?
At its core, experiential marketing is a strategy that engages the consumer and creates a real-life, memorable experience with a brand. By providing a pathway to a personal connection, experiential marketing appeals to the emotions of the consumer. Typically, it is a real-life event that the consumer can participate in and will remember.
Even with all the planning you do, it’s the patient that’s the central focus of your efforts. It makes sense then to design your urgent care clinic and services around the patient. After all, urgent care is a delivery model based on the idea that patients deserve the proper treatment at the exact time they need it.
Experiential marketing can deliver a more comfortable experience for your urgent care patients.
What Does Experiential Marketing Have To Do With Health?
On its face, experiential marketing seems to be a feature of big brands that offer pop-up stores and major events. However, experiential marketing serves a deeper and important purpose in healthcare, too. There are many opportunities to forge a more significant relationship with patients through experiences outside of their need for direct care.
Traditionally, experiential marketing campaigns use an “activation” event, like product campaigns, to bring brands to life and to interact directly with their target audience.
In the private practice world, your office is that activation. You need to be the stunt you aim to pull off every day. You are the experience every time your patient comes through your door.
How Important Is It, Really? And for Urgent Care?
You might be skeptical of this relatively new type of marketing, and that’s natural. However, skepticism should be put aside in the face of facts, and the facts tell us this: it only takes one bad experience, one bad moment, one bad crack in the system to break someone’s trust these days.
There are so many options out there. If a patient has a bad experience in your office, what’s to stop them from going to the doctor down the street?
Another major factor to consider is the importance of online reviews. One negative review could deter a potential patient from choosing you, even if you have 250 positive, five-star ratings.
There’s a scientific reason for this: the negativity bias. This bias inherent to human nature – we remember the bad things more than the good.
What can you do to make sure your patients come away from your office with a positive impression? How can you avoid the negativity bias and keep your patients satisfied with your service?
When it comes to your urgent care facility, think about the environment carefully.
Want to make your clinic more patient-centered? Put yourself in your patients’ shoes. Make convenience your guide when making decisions. In the end, if you make the patient the focus of your mission, your urgent care will flourish.
The Five Senses and Experiential Marketing
To focus on your patient in the most effective way possible, follow the principles of experiential marketing. When you begin this journey for your practice, you should first think about your vision. What are your long-term goals for your practice? What is your practice brand? What is your story?
Once you know the answers to these questions, it’s time to think about the details. What graphics can be seen in your office? Do they remind patients of the graphics on your website and in your emails – are you painting a cohesive picture? Are you telling the complete story of your practice brand?
You need to think about the graphics on the walls, but the walls themselves– and your whole office environment – make a major impact, too. Are your wall colors and finishes welcoming? Do they coordinate with your graphics?
Sight is an extremely important sense, but it’s not the only one. Are you appealing to touch, taste, sound, and smell? Is your office welcoming on every level? Does your office reflect the ultimate experience?
The Optimal Structure of the Urgent Care Facility
Experiential marketing doesn’t just apply to typical private practices. It has an important place in the urgent care facility.
Think about how you can improve the lighting and decorations, the seating and privacy, interior signage, and the comfort items you offer in your urgent care facility.
Lighting and Decorations (I would make these subheadings a different color or smaller)
Choose a soothing lighting when building your clinic. Try to incorporate natural light with windows, where appropriate. Pick deliberate colors and decoration for relaxation. Keep the lobby area up to date with proper furnishings and equipment. For clinics that treat pediatrics, offer child-friendly distractions.
Seating and Privacy
Provide enough seating for approximately three times the number of patients you anticipate. Most patients are accompanied by family or friends. Patients in pain don’t wish to sit in the open; arrange seats that offer privacy. A corner for children also keeps noise at minimum for others. Offer a private (or semi-private) area for registration, so patients can relay private information out of ear-shot of other waiting patients. Make sure you maximize space while keeping a clear path for traffic flow.
Clear Interior Signage
If your patient has to move rooms or stations for treatment, have clear signage in the exam room about where to go—or escort patients directly to where they need to go. Getting lost in the clinic during treatment causes more unneeded anxiety on top of the present situation. Also have clear signs in hallways for exits, the waiting room, and rest rooms.
Offer convenience for comfort. Plan your clinic to be near public transport. Offer phones and Wi-Fi directly in the waiting room. Have calming music or televisions turned on appropriately calming channels. Consider having beverage options—a coffee bar, vending machines, or light food available. Keep rooms a comfortable temperature.
The Importance of the Receptionist
Your patient is scared and in pain. A calm, friendly, efficient receptionist is vital to a patient’s overall experience. Speed and assurance need to be portrayed. Be deliberate with the personality types you place in this position. Also, have a more open, non-walled area to speak to the receptionist. Don’t forget name tags for all staff.
The Urgent Care Process Optimized for Experiential Marketing
Make registration as fast and painless as possible. Your patient is already under a ton of stress with an unplanned injury or illness. Offer online check-in so your patient can register on the way to your clinic. Consider having a greeter at the door to direct the patient and help fill out paperwork. Provide a queue number so they know what number they are—and how long it will be to see a provider. In-office check-in should take minutes.
Wait for Provider
Keep this to a minimum, and have the nurse be clear about how long the provider will be. Nothing is worse than sitting in an exam room, and not knowing when you’ll be seen. Explain who the provider is, offer a bio sheet or other intro information if possible. Give patients a way to write down questions for the provider while waiting.
Calm fears by explaining exam steps as they happen, from taking vitals through the actual exam. Each of your staff can help with this, from your nurse, to x-ray or lab techs, to the provider. Taking away the unknown can be enough to help the patient face reality and know what’s coming. Also, outline EMR documentation steps together with the patient. Comforting words of how you’ve seen and handled similar cases can also help.
Offer immediate discharge for insured patients by collecting co-pays during registration. Be clear if the patient needs to check out at the front desk before leaving. Make it easy for cash patients; be transparent with fees so they are prepared. Consider offering online payment options and payment plans to give patients more ways to pay when your office is closed.
ePrescribing and Directions for At-Home Care
Provide at-home care instructions, in either digital or print form, upon discharge. An EMR can offer templates with accurate instructions for care, which providers can modify to their preference. Save time by sending scripts to pharmacies digitally, so the patient can have drugs filled on the way home. Have common meds on hand so the patient doesn’t have an extra stop.
Referral to another physician
Quickly refer patients to another physician for follow-up appointments, therapy, or recovery treatments. Ask if you can schedule a follow-up appointment with another practice for the patient. Also, keep primary care physicians (if the patient has one) in the loop of patient care by forwarding their medical history.
Patient Portal and Follow-up Communications
Many clinics now offer secure, HIPAA-compliant patient portals. Patients can view (and reply to) messages directly from providers. They could also view follow-up instructions, review lab results, and check on prior invoices. Remember to schedule a friendly follow-up phone call as well.
Review and Survey Options
Give patients the chance to give you feedback to improve your process. Most unhappy patients take this avenue in a public place such as online reviews. Find out how you are doing first, by asking for honest feedback after the patient visit—and giving patients an easy way to complete a survey regarding service and facilities.
How Breakthrough Can Help You
You know that it’s important to keep your customers satisfied with the level of care you provide them. Now it’s time to take it up a notch through experiential marketing. Designing a warm, welcome, and positive experience for your patients will help you succeed. But to do that, you have to make sure you’ve covered all the details first.
At Breakthrough we will work with you to shape your brand and optimize your practice through experiential marketing. We’ll bring our professional experience to your practice and make sure all the details are covered.
One of our favorite quotes is a marketing maxim from the TV show Mad Men: “Make it simple, but significant.” We can help you transform your office space into a simple but significant experience for your patients.
Contact Breakthrough today for your consultation and begin the journey and successes through experiential marketing.