Pre-Arrival: Building Loyalty Before They Even Get There

There are certainly a lot of factors that go into patient loyalty: convenience, location, friendliness, clinical outcomes, but one area that is often overlooked is that of pre-arrival. I saw a study this morning about how pre-arrival is becoming more important to patients than the admission process when answering the question “How likely are you to recommend this hospital?”

This really surprised me, given all the energy we’ve spent trying to reduce wait times, hire friendly staff, simplify the admission questions, and generally make the process go as quickly and smoothly as possible.

As is often the case in healthcare, I actually realized just how valuable pre-arrival was through my experience with another industry. This past summer, my daughter and I started visiting college campuses. We were planning a trip out west from Chicago and decided to hit four colleges in a week. With plane tickets, hotel stays, rental cars, and mapping everything out online, there was a lot to do and the whole thing was a bit of a blur.

One college really stood out, however. While all of them gave step-by-step directions from the nearest airport to their front door, one had a video. It was shot from the passenger seat of a car and it showed exactly what it looked like while you were heading their way. They zoomed in on the exit signs, let you see just how quickly that right turn that most people miss comes up, showed you where the parking garage was, and then which direction to walk to find the correct building to check in for the tour. It was wonderful.

A few days later while I was driving there, I was comfortable and relaxed. It felt familiar, like I had been there before, even though I hadn’t. With all the money hospitals are spending on interior and exterior signage, it’s astounding to me that they aren’t shooting a video and showing patients what it looks like when you get near their site.

We’ve become accustomed to using our car’s GPS to find a hospital, but what a huge dis-satisfier to then have no idea where to park, which door to go in, and how to find the registration area. How many front desk receptionists would be delighted to not have to spend the first few minutes dealing with angry, frustrated patients and apologizing for the lack of helpful signs or clear directions?

I’m sure more will come out about pre-arrival factors and how they contribute to patient loyalty. This one seems like a good start to me.

What is your hospital doing to make pre-arrival easier for patients?

Author: Kate Kalthoff

It's simple: leave people, places, and things better than I found them. For more than 20 years, Katherine Kalthoff has been working to improve the way healthcare organizations connect with the people they serve. She began her career at Gift of Hope, the organ procurement organization for Illinois, approaching families and securing their consent to donate a loved one’s organs for transplant. Through compassionate, empathetic listening, Kate led the Family Services team to one of the highest consent rates in the country. From there, Kate went to Advocate Health Care, Illinois’s largest healthcare system, as a Physician Relations and Business Development Manager, improving physician satisfaction and strengthening the relationships of both the employed and independent physicians with the system as a whole. Just prior to joining Northwest Community Healthcare as the Patient Experience Officer, Kate was the first Manager of Patient Experience at DuPage Medical Group where she built a platform of organization-wide service excellence through her inspiring brand of education, training, and one-on-one coaching. A much sought-after speaker and trainer, Kate has a very simple approach to her work: leave people, places and things better than you found them.

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