The Impact of Reputation in Healthcare
In healthcare, a good reputation is a tremendous asset, but a bad reputation can really hurt a hospital, doctor’s office or ambulatory health center.
With dozens of websites ranking and reviewing health centers, potential patients have more venues than ever to read and write about their experiences and perceptions. And the constant access to news and information means the public very quickly catches wind of any healthcare scandals or crises.
Today, healthcare centers must proactively manage and maintain their reputations in order to recruit and keep quality staff, attract patients and build trust in the community. Here are some of the reasons every healthcare center should work to build its reputation:
A good reputation attracts more patients and better employees
For non-emergency health concerns, patients get to choose where to seek care. A study by The King’s Fund found that reputation was one of the top five determining factors for patients in choosing a hospital. A health center may have amazing service, but if no one outside of the organization knows about it, it won’t help attract patients or quality employees.
Along with maintaining good practices, every health center should work on actively managing marketing to improve its reputation. Administrators can use advertising and marketing campaigns to speak to the needs and values of the center’s patient base. Social media can be a tool to build connections and trust with potential patients by responding quickly to inquiries, telling stories of positive experiences of former patients, highlighting staff members and more. This shows patients they’ll be in good hands and helps potential employees know they’ll be appreciated and have opportunities to work with great co-workers.
Accreditation improves the quality of service
Accreditation from an organization like the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) can be a major part of boosting a health center’s reputation. Maintaining accreditation shows that the center meets established industry standards, which legitimizes it in the eyes of patients, news outlets and others outside the organization.
While health centers don’t have to have accreditation to provide quality care, studies have shown that achieving and retaining accreditation significantly improves the quality of care and clinical outcomes. This means it’s worthwhile for a health center to pursue accreditation both to boost its reputation and to make sure it lives up to that reputation by providing the best possible care and service.
Good reputation management protects health centers limits the long-term impact of a crisis or scandal
Reputation can be a fragile thing. Even just one incident of staff misconduct or a patient lawsuit can quickly spread and shed a negative light on a health center. However, if the organization is proactively curating its reputation and has a strategy in place to face such a crisis head-on, the incident will more likely be seen as isolated rather than symptomatic of larger issues. If the organization has been actively showing its history of good outcomes, clear records, transparency and accreditation, the news cycle will pass on quickly without hurting the health center’s reputation in the long-term.