4 Ways pediatric care centers can build loyalty

Pediatric healthcare is a fast-growing, multi-billion market with considerations that set it apart from other forms of healthcare.

Getting pediatric care is an especially emotional process, not only for children (who might be experiencing a serious medical condition at a tender age) but also for their families. Pediatric care providers need to be extra sensitive and thoughtful throughout all forms of the patient experience, ranging from onboarding to ongoing management. Here are four tips for doing so:

Mind the On-Site Experience

Hospitals can be scary places – certainly for adults, but definitely for children. Especially if a family is enduring treatment for a serious condition, pediatric providers should go out of their way to make the experience as inviting and comfortable as possible. Doing so means getting little details right, such as the color scheme of the rooms and providing toys and activities for families. Some hospitals go all-out and arrange for special visits from celebrities. Others offer the most playful types of experiences possible in a hospital.

For instance, Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is one of many facilities providing mobile carts tricked out with immersive games. The carts are built by Gamers Outreach Foundation (GO), a charity that makes it possible for hospitals to offer gaming. The games give kids a welcome distraction when they need to endure an extended visit to the hospital.

Inspire Confidence

Imagine being a parent researching healthcare for your child – perhaps you’ve been there. The process is especially stressful. You’re making decisions that will affect your child’s health. Pediatric care institutions should go out of their way to feature online content that inspires confidence and assures website visitors that they’ve found the right place for their child.

Texas Children’s Hospital prominently features on its website its high ranking on the U.S. News & World Report honor roll for the best children’s hospitals. The website features news that showcases the hospital’s active involvement in pediatric care, ranging from its Number 1 ranking for cardiology care to a news story about a father donating his kidney to a child receiving care at the Texas Children’s. Notice also the use of inviting imagery, such as a prominent photo of children eating watermelon:

Featuring all this content above the fold on the website’s home page is crucial. The hospital sends a message to parents that they are going to get the absolute best care for their children.

Be Found

Families searching for care are highly motivated to find specialty care. Especially with the advent of voice search, families can make more refined, pinpointed searches more easily than ever before, such as “Where can I find the top-rated pediatric diabetes and endocrinology centers on the east coast?”

Pediatric care hospitals should strive to appear in the top search results by optimizing their content on their physician pages and their website for specialty keywords beyond “pediatric care.” In addition, pediatric care providers need to get their location and physician data in order. Make sure that after someone learns about your services that they can actually find you.

I suggest regularly checking the accuracy of your name, address, phone number, and hours of all your physicians, especially because physicians typically keep multiple hours in several locations. Remember what I said about building confidence earlier in this post? Having accurate location and physician data builds confidence. But when patients can’t find you or operate off wrong information about your hours of availability, their confidence is eroded.

So get the details right. Don’t assume someone else will manage location information. Personally assign the job and manage location data as a critical, measureable responsibility.

Yes, location data is that important.

Create Community

Pediatric care centers act as community hubs for parents seeking other parents who are experiencing similar experiences. It’s especially important that your care center be active in community – including social media and in community events. For instance, Boston Children’s Hospital is an active social media participant via channels such as Facebook, and the center also lends its support for community fundraisers through the Boston Children’s Hospital Trust. Many other top ranked pediatric hospitals are very active on social, including the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, which encourages families to share their stories and photos for others to see.

Chances are that your pediatric care center is an important destination that will shape the lives of an entire family. Help families find you. Inspire confidence when they do. Create an exceptional experience. And build a community. Do those things right, and you will help those who need you at the right time and place.

Brian Westrick is SIM Partners' Director of Enterprise Sales. In 2016, Brian Westrick joined SIM Partners bringing 14 years of experience navigating the healthcare solutions and technology space. During that time, Brian has worked with health systems and medical groups to improve healthcare through technology including health information management, supply chain, clinician recruitment and healthcare marketing. Recently Brian's focus has been on patient access and engagement; how providers can improve patient engagement in those micro-moments of search and discovery.

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