To be effective, topics must hit a hot-button issue for the audience. This can happen in two ways: 1) The subject is currently in the news and on the minds of healthcare consumers, or 2) it is a topic that is relatively new, and this testimonial will help create much-needed awareness for your audience.
2. Positive Clinical Outcome
What determines a positive clinical outcome? Marketing professionals and clinicians may have differing opinions, but asking a few key questions can help you determine if you have a good candidate. Has the patient returned to work and normal daily activities? Is the patient suffering any long-term side effects? Is the physician satisfied with the outcome? (This can be tricky, especially with patients suffering from conditions that could recur, such as cancer or cardiac issues.) Do what you can to mitigate the negative, such as ongoing complications, and when in doubt (i.e., the oncologist is apprehensive because the patient has been in remission for only a few months), wait until all parties are comfortable with the outcome.
3. A Willing Patient
From a marketing perspective, the patient testimonial is only as good as the patient’s enthusiasm, attitude and commitment to the process. The patient must be willing to speak favorably about the healthcare provider or hospital, the physician and staff, and the overall experience. It also helps if the outcome allowed the patient to return to a hobby, activity or occupation (i.e., horseback riding for a total hip replacement patient or biking for a cardiac bypass patient). Of course, a patient who is passionate, enthusiastic and well-spoken is the ideal candidate, but depending on the chosen medium (print, broadcast, Web), you can build strong testimonials in a number of ways.
Physicians and patients want to tell success stories. But sometimes, information is omitted that could have a negative effect on your organization. It is critical that you get some background about your patient – and the circumstances behind his or her condition – before you tell his or her story and put it in front of thousands of readers or viewers.
For instance, let’s say a patient has a great outcome on a surgical procedure, but it was his or her irresponsible behavior (perhaps in a public venue) that caused the injury or condition. While the story, on its face, is a victory for the physician and the patient, the patient’s back story could provide a backlash of bad publicity for the healthcare facility. Doing a little checking on the front end can help prevent lost time, expense, embarrassment or bad press after the fact.
5. A Willing Physician
The patient perspective is critical because it speaks directly to your audience, at their level. But having a physician who is willing to discuss the patient’s condition and provide a clinical – and sometimes even personal and emotional – connection to the patient’s account only serves to strengthen the story and lend credibility to the institution. The physician can also fill in some of the facts that the patient might leave out.
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