Patient experience leaders at hospitals have a tough line to walk.

As the understanding of the patient experience matures, we're moving into a world of consumer marketing that's way past anything most hospitals have done before. Still, for most organizations, yesterday's approach to consumer understanding is still very present.

Case in point, HCAHPS scores are pretty new but don't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. That might be a little extra worrying if your scores are falling behind the national average, but if your bottom box scores were a shock, you've stumbled on a source of content inspiration. These seemingly negative responses can actually be a valuable positive jumping off point for your personalized website content initiatives.

The questions with the most potential
The HCAHPS survey deals heavily with the clinical hospital experience, like how often a room was cleaned, whether doctors and nurses were respectful, and how pain was addressed, but the real gems of personalized content don't show up until the very end. Let's take a look at some of the questions that close out the survey.

  • During this hospital stay, were you admitted to this hospital through the Emergency Room?
  • In general, how would you rate your overall health?
  • In general, how would you rate your overall mental or emotional health?
  • What is the highest grade or level of school that you have completed?
  • Are you of Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino origin or descent?
  • What language do you mainly speak at home?

What might look like sterile demographic information at first is actually insight into the very people you're targeting in your healthcare content marketing initiatives. Think about it — as you're diving into a new digital experience, are you considering something as simple but also critical as educational level and household language?

Using HCAHPS responses as a starting point to examine demographic trends can help guide your content initiatives around everything from inpatient experiences, to discharge results, nurse bedside manner, and more.

An example from the ER
Let's say you're analyzing your most recent HCAHPS results and notice that your experience ratings show up too frequently in your bottom and middle box scores. You also know that you drive a large number of admissions through the ER. A small clue like that can be a great jumping off point for an awareness campaign targeted toward patients admitted through the ER that emphasizes recent facility upgrades.

That simple concept can be extended to almost any of the “About You" answers. Does it appear that members of foreign-language-speaking homes aren't being included in conversations about pain management? Maybe it's time to knock down some language barriers and extend your pain management education with a campaign that specifically targets these households. Is it possible that patients with poor emotional health are feeling disrespected by clinicians? They might be prime candidates for a recap of that seminar on bedside manner that your nurses and doctors have gotten so much use out of.

This concept should sound slightly familiar. Companies like Facebook, and to a greater extent, Amazon, have been leveraging data for targeting and personalization for years now. Your healthcare consumers aren't only used to this approach to their content, they expect it, so don't be shy. Embrace targeted and personalized web content, and while you're at it, make sure you're maximizing your precision (as well as your ROI) with a CRM that's tailored to your organizational needs.

Remember that the patients you're addressing with HCAHPS scores are in a very specific stage in their healthcare journey. These are consumers who've already had some sort of experience with your facility and are deciding whether to include you as a long-term partner in their healthcare decisions. Getting in front of their preferences and challenges with targeted content can go a long way in making sure they choose you over that hospital down the street the next time they need to address a medical issue.

Want more tips on creating successful, positive experiences for your healthcare consumers? Download our guide to Healthcare Consumerism Today.