Patient loyalty may be defined as a patient’s willingness to use the services of a particular medical facility repeatedly. As medical services develop and transform, patient satisfaction and loyalty become essential aspects that require consideration. In many cases, healthcare facilities shift to more business-related approaches, and the financial element becomes critical. In that regard, the general principles of client targeting and loyalty apply to medical services. The improvement of patient satisfaction does not only positively influence the performance of individual facilities but also promotes health. As healthcare becomes more and more client-oriented, more people tend to overview their attitude toward health and benefit from medical services more frequently. Consequently, the aspects of patient satisfaction and loyalty should be considered by both independent businesses and the authorities on the national level. Moreover, with the increase of competition, attracting new clients becomes more complicated than ever and hence it may be necessary to address patient loyalty. Providing high-quality services, introducing an individual approach to each patient, and maintaining loyalty programs may be the keystones of maintaining the customer base.
Patient experience serves as a fundamental element of patient loyalty development as it may be defined as a combination of patients’ attitudes to the aspects of healthcare treatment. Loyalty is related to patient satisfaction and satisfaction is maintained by providing the high-quality patient experience. As customer experience influences a wide variety of elements in businesses and particularly in healthcare facilities, it may require thorough consideration. According to some sources, broader attention to quality may be required in order to improve patient experience (Larson, Sharma, Bohren, & Tunçalp, 2019). Furthermore, patient experience may significantly depend on subjective perceptions and attitudes. Therefore, it may be beneficial to address the personal preferences of each patient. Patient experience also plays a considerable role in maintaining the financial well-being of healthcare facilities. A recent study has determined a strong correlation between positive patient experience and profitability growth (Richter & Muhlestein, 2017).
Patient satisfaction is designed to measure patients’ contentment with the provided medical services. As already mentioned, patient loyalty is closely linked with the quality of provided services. Such correlation may be explained by the increase in patient satisfaction caused by high-quality services. Therefore, it may be beneficial to address distinct aspects of patient satisfaction. First, it may be necessary to identify the critical determinants of patient satisfaction. Second, it may be critical to implement various metrics in order to measure patient satisfaction. The combination of these two aspects may contribute to a significant improvement of satisfaction and consequently increase patient loyalty. Recent research has shown that service quality indicators are the most significant determinants of satisfaction (Batbaatar, Dorjdagva, Luvsannyam, Savino, & Amenta, 2016). Person-related characteristics may also influence patient satisfaction rates. The assessment of patient satisfaction may be conducted by two main sources, which are external surveys and internal surveys (Kim, 2018). It may be necessary to utilize both external and internal surveys focusing on the correlation between service quality and patient satisfaction in order to introduce a comprehensive analysis of data required for patient loyalty improvement. Conclusively, patient experience, satisfaction, and loyalty represent a closely interconnected system that has a noticeable impact on healthcare profitability and service quality.
There is a wide variety of elements that influence service quality. These elements include tangibility, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy. It may be possible to implement strategies that address these aspects in order to improve service quality in general. There is also a list of marketing-related aspects such as word-of-mouth effects and hospital image, which may significantly influence patient loyalty. Waiting time, price policies, and patient-physician relations also demonstrate a strong correlation with patient loyalty (Dayan, Al Kuwaiti, Husain, Ng, & Dayan, 2021). On the basis of these correlations, the paper suggests two primary strategies that focus on distinct aspects related to patient loyalty. The first strategy is targeted at the improvement of hospital image. The second strategy is focused on improving service quality by maintaining reliability in order to increase patient satisfaction and loyalty rates.
The packaging of products and services plays a significant role in improving customer experience. In many cases, similar products may be perceived differently depending on the quality of complimentary services and even brand recognition. Brand development investments may considerably improve hospital image and hence patient loyalty. The strategy should include conducting marketing research in order to identify the demand for primary and complimentary services. It may also be vital to develop advertising campaigns using such promotion avenues as the internet and social media. The UAE authorities should also implement programs promoting health in order to improve the image of healthcare in general. Such a strategy may increase patient loyalty not only for independent facilities but on the national level.
Service quality is closely related to its reliability; consequently, reliability influences patient loyalty. The reliable performance of healthcare facilities might be highly dependent on the professionalism of individual employees. Moreover, respectful interactions between the staff and patients may significantly influence reliability (Kim, 2018). Therefore, it is necessary to introduce strict regulations regarding recruiting frameworks and provide sufficient preliminary training for employees. Introducing various training policies and regular skill development training may be the key to increasing healthcare reliability. The UAE may also consider establishing of international learning programs in order to build a decent base of high-qualified labor. Implementing techniques designed to improve worker professionalism may increase service reliability and patient loyalty.
Batbaatar, E., Dorjdagva, J., Luvsannyam, A., Savino, M. M., & Amenta, P. (2016). Determinants of patient satisfaction: A systematic review. Perspectives in Public Health, 137(2), 89-101.
Dayan, M., Al Kuwaiti, I. A., Husain, Z., Ng, P. Y., & Dayan, A. (2021). Factors influencing patient loyalty to outpatient medical services: An empirical analysis of the UAE’s government healthcare system. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Ahead-of-print(Ahead-of-print).
Kim, S. (2018). Measurement and implementation of patient satisfaction in the healthcare industry: Part 2. International Journal of Innovative Research in Computer Science & Technology, 6(1), 1-5.
Larson, E., Sharma, J., Bohren, M. A., & Tunçalp, Ö. (2019). When the patient is the expert: Measuring patient experience and satisfaction with care. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 97(8), 563-569.
Richter, J. P., & Muhlestein, D. B. (2017). Patient experience and hospital profitability: Is there a link? Health Care Management Review, 42(3), 247-257.