Branding doesn't stop with the design of a logo and signage, the production of patient education materials and all the other external communications that may center around advertising. It belongs in all facets of the patient experience, beginning with where you're located, the waiting and exam room environmental experience, the way your office staff treats your patients, and how your internal and external communications relate to your patient base. Each of these components must consistently deliver the same message to insure patient satisfaction and trust.
Imagine you are a patient interested in finding a new doctor. Much of your decision is going to be based on what you've heard from friends and family, ads you may have seen in the paper or on TV and what you found doing online research. Filtering through this information and narrowing the options down to a final choice can be a difficult process. After going through this process, you believe that you have found the provider best suited to your specific needs and wants. You make your first appointment with confidence knowing you've done your homework.
The day of your appointment arrives. To your surprise, your first step into the waiting room is an unpleasant one; the receptionist doesn't greet you, the room is filled with unhappy looking people, there is a strange odor and the lights seem really harsh. The furnishing are sparse and the environment lacks warmth. You wonder if you should just turn around and leave. You walk to the receptionist to sign in, but she barely looks up from her computer and speaks to you with a tone of annoyance. She hands you an information sheet that is pages long and difficult to read. You fill it out and wait for 45 minutes before being taken to an examination room, where you are left for an additional 20 minutes with nothing to look at but some very uninteresting and old reading material. Your doctor finally arrives, meets with you for 10 minutes, then leaves to see another patient. You wonder why you went through all of that for 10 minutes of someone's time.
After an experience like this, you wonder where you went wrong. You recall the ads and the practice's website promising you exceptional service and individual care, but experienced none of these during your visit. In this instance, the medical practice made a promise but couldn't deliver it. This is why brands fail.
Do not let any of your patient's experiences match up with this example on any level. If you are providing patients with a promise, fulfill it. Train your office staff to be polite and helpful and schedule appointments with waiting times in mind. Use a critical eye when you evaluate your waiting and exam rooms, and you more than likely will need an objective eye to help you see things from another perspective. Obviously, the idea is to make changes that will ultimately provide your patients with a warm and comfortable experience. These are the little things that can add great value to your brand.