Women are still the dominant force in caregiving. And this can give healthcare providers an ‘in’ when trying to secure a family’s ongoing…matronage.
The times are ever-changing. Yet some things are slower to change or may never change. Go ahead, insert your favorite ‘politicians’ joke. I’ll wait.
One thing that has been true for all of human history is that, typically, women are the caretakers. “Mother” is the root word for many words, phrases, and proverbs regarding taking care of another person. “Motherly” love is sweet and warm, whereas “fatherly” love isn’t a concept that is ever even mentioned.
It is true, nowadays, that fatherhood means more than just going out and hunting the food. There are more men becoming stay-at-home-dads or primary caregivers than ever. Many countries have begun to legally recognize that a father’s right to spend time with his children is equal to the mother’s. Equal paternity leave is on the rise.
However, women are still the dominant force in caregiving. And this can give healthcare providers an ‘in’ when trying to secure a family’s ongoing…matronage.
Women Rule The Roost
We’ve come a long way from the breadwinner days of the ‘50s. Even so, women are still the primary caretakers in any given family. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, published in 2018, emphasizes that this is still the case, despite the difficulties women face in getting paid time off or benefits.
Allow us to focus on that last element first: the lack of benefits. This is one of the most important takeaways of KFF’s results. “Low-income women, women who are employed part-time, and women who live in rural areas are less likely to be offered…benefits,” the study states of its findings. It then emphasizes that “the disparity in workplace benefits is particularly stark between full and part-time workers [for both men and women].”
A lack of benefits or paid time off makes it difficult for families to meet their healthcare needs. This does not mean that every family that walks through your doors will be gravely in need. What it does represent is an opportunity – one that we will expound on momentarily.
The most crucial point of the KFF study’s findings, for our considerations in this article, is the confirmation that women do the majority of the healthcare management for the family, particularly the children. On this subject, KFF notes that “[a]mong mothers, about three-quarters report that they are the ones who usually take charge of health care responsibilities such as:
- choosing their children’s provider (79%)
- taking them to appointments (77%)
- following through with recommended care (77%)
This is “…compared to approximately a fifth of fathers who report they take care of these tasks.” According to an article by the Seattle Times, even “cardiothoracic surgeon and TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz has admitted that he has deferred certain health care decisions for their children to his wife, trading his doctor expertise for the “Mister” role at home.”
These numbers represent the opportunity to win the loyalty of an entire family, as opposed to just picking up patients one-by-one. The problem lies in the nature of the diagnostics business – most patients won’t be in with any sort of frequency. After all, you don’t need an x-ray unless something is broken, and you certainly don’t need an MRI until something is potentially seriously wrong.
There are very few people who want to get an MRI (and pay for one) for kicks.
You can find the final piece of the puzzle when you combine the needs of working mothers with the lack of benefits. According to KFF, forty percent of working moms “say they must take time off work and stay home when their children are sick.” Of that forty percent, “56% are not paid for that time off”.
Back to the opportunity – if you maintain awareness of these statistics and apply leverage properly, you’re ensuring that when a working mother needs to get an injury checked out, your practice is her first thought because your staff is friendly and it was so easy last time.
A working mother with an injured child is the most stressed out person you’ve ever met. If you have impressed her previously, she will hope for a repeat. If you succeed in making this easy for her, reassuring her and her child, then you will have won her eternal gratitude.
Effective Patient Retention is Central To A Good Radiology Marketing Strategy
Despite the emphasis that we’re placing on making your female patients happy, we need to make it clear that the best ways to earn their trust is to simply implement good patient retention strategies (which work on everybody, regardless of gender).
There are many simple tips that you can utilize to make a great impression and encourage patient retention. As unlikely as it is that you’ll see any particular patient again, you never know when somebody they care about will need the exact services you provide.
Happy patients are the cheapest advertising you can find!
A happy patient has the potential to bring you additional patients through positive reviews or word-of-mouth. And, if that happy patient is a wife or mother (or both), then she has a very direct influence over the healthcare decisions of her family.
So what do you do? For starters, the most important retention strategies have nothing to do with knowledge or your skills as a radiologist. The details (positive and negative) that patients most commonly refer to in reviews are all soft skills, including:
- Bedside manner
- Attitudes of staff
- Attention paid to patient
Additionally, things like the ease of setting appointments and wait times can make a difference in how the patient views the appointment.
The most effective tools in your arsenal, however, are still empathy and good customer service skills. Once you’ve mastered those, you can move on to our more thorough list of radiology marketing strategies.
Make Your Mama Proud
Patient retention is always important. Making patients happy should be a goal that you strive for in order to properly secure your reputation. However, we have to admit that, especially for diagnostics facilities, there is a certain logic to the idea that expending just a little more effort to ensure that women leave happy could have additional benefits in the long run.
Besides, you never know who goes to church with your mom.