What part of a brand does a customer remember the logo, the name, or their treatment?

 

(If you want to learn more about branding in medical tourism, come to hear Ilan Geva at the Marketing Workshop at EMTC 2012 in Berlin this April.)

Medical tourism and healthcare in general have been relatively slow on the uptake in terms of understanding what a brand is all about and how it can strengthen a business.

But one of the fundamental starting points in branding is what you call your business or service, how memorable it is to your customers and how well you communicate it to them. In medical tourism, it’s important because the people you treat are your “patient ambassadors”. They may not bring repeat business directly but they can bring you “repeat business” from their relatives, friends and work colleagues.

So what happens if they can’t even remember your name......?
 

We have just completed the Treatment Abroad Medical Tourism Survey 2012. This research carried out by an external market researcher attracted over 1,000 patients who had travelled to another country for treatment. (The 150 page report will be available for purchase at the end of March). And one of the interesting snippets of data from the research is how many people can’t actually remember the name of the facilitator or agency that they used, or the clinic or hospital that they went to, or they have got the name wrong.

Bear in mind that these are people who have made a major life decision by deciding to travel to another country for treatment. And that they spent on average 16 days abroad, and in 40% of cases they made two or more trips to the healthcare provider.

Here are the hard facts from the research:

  • Just over one quarter of the medical tourists made the arrangements for their trip through a medical travel facilitator or agency, but of these, one in ten could not remember the name of the business that handled their trip.
  • And it was a similar story for the name of the clinic or hospital that the patient had gone to. Again, one in ten of the respondents, couldn’t remember specifically where they had been.
  • A common response was “Can’t remember” or responses such as these:
  1.         Can’t remember but it was in Bruges
  2.         Can't remember - it was in Kusadasi
  3.         Can’t remember, the main one in Brussels
  4.         Can’t remember, it was in Sofia

Well done to the following agencies, clinics and providers, who got quite a few mentions in the research AND whose customers got their name right (nearly all the time!):

Is it important for your customers to remember who you are?

Well, it is if your agency, clinic or hospital is doing a great job treating international patients and your “patient ambassadors” can’t recommend you to friends.

One of the key reasons that patients forget... is because they have short memories. So, it may be worth looking at your organisation and asking yourself...”When did we last have a conversation with or speak to our past patients?” or “When did we actually write to or send something to our patients?”

Another telling statistic from the research is the “short termism” that is prevalent in the medical tourism sector. For many in the international patient business, the focus is on......

  •     attract the patient,
  •     treat them (well),
  •     get the bill paid,
  •     and send them home.

There are exceptions....but this is how it works most of the time.

A missed opportunity to reinforce your brand

Here are more hard facts from the Treatment Abroad Medical Tourism Survey 2012. After returning home:

  •     Around half got an email.
  •     One in seven got a phone call
  •     One in fifty got something in the post

Nearly one third of the patients had no contact after they returned home.

What a missed opportunity to reinforce the brand message and ....more importantly what does that statistic say about the relationship between healthcare provider and international patient?

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