The Power of Empathy in Healthcare Marketing

by Katy Mena-Berkley, Copywriter - 07/04/18

shutterstock_229879537See things from your patients’ perspective to effectively build trust and differentiate your brand.

In an industry that seems increasingly driven by dollars and cents, tight timelines, and shrinking budgets, taking time to be truly empathetic with the individuals you serve may feel like an unaffordable luxury. Investing time and emotion into understanding what patients and families are experiencing may take an emotional toll, whether you are a clinician, medical professional, or healthcare marketer. It may also present challenges that can seem insurmountable when you are removed from the point of care yet held accountable for the patient experience. 

Still, empathy is a key component in today’s marketing industry, attracting audiences and inspiring customers. According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing titled “Understanding the Power of Hope and Empathy in Healthcare Marketing,” expert testimonials strengthened the persuasive nature of hope-based appeals to audiences. In contrast, testimonial messages from patients were not as effective as hope-based appeals. 

This compassionate approach is especially critical in healthcare, where the audience has a natural aversion to the clinical services offered and often feels at their most vulnerable when interacting with your organization. This was a “Eureka moment” yielded by a recent consumer segmentation study conducted by Novant Health, and the discovery inspired the marketing team to implement strategies to educate physicians around enhancing the patient experience.

Defining Empathy

Empathy is a quality that enables a person to understand what another person may be feeling or experiencing. It is a skill that can be learned, polished, and perfected. 

To increase your personal ability to be empathetic and guide physicians and other colleagues on ways to demonstrate compassion, start by being more observant of others during conversations. Note how body language and facial expressions shift according to the situation. Take time to talk with family, friends, and coworkers and listen when they describe scenarios that have had an emotional impact on them. Test your skills by asking people with whom you are close if your reading of their particular experience is accurate. 

Communication is also essential in fostering trust. According to this Forbes article, “Patients long for information and communication throughout their medical journeys. They want to receive attention and proper treatment for their conditions. There also want to be informed of what to expect every step of the way.”

How Empathy Can Enhance a Business

Patient Leader Network WEGO Health outlines ways that empathy can inspire patients and boost your company’s bottom line, including:

  1. Improved patient outcomes. Studies indicate that patients experience fewer complications when cared for by empathetic providers.
  2. Better compliance. Patients who feel connected to and trust their providers are more likely to adhere to recommendations, such as taking medications as prescribed and following healthful lifestyle behaviors.
  3. Improved satisfaction from patients. When you make patients feel like individuals instead of numbers on a waiting list, they are more likely to trust your organization and recommend your services to friends and family. 
Tuning in to patients at your facility or healthcare system promotes healing and may pay off for everyone involved in more ways than one.

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Topics: Content Strategy, Healthcare Industry Insights & Trends

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