Patient First Impressions
The power of first impressions is well documented, and the social science is clear. It takes just seven seconds to form first impressions, and 10-30 seconds for credible opinions to set in. Indeed, first impressions can be so convincing, they can even overrule facts.
If first impressions are negative — even if proven wrong — they’re incredibly difficult to shake. A Harvard study warns that it takes around 8 positive encounters to reverse a bad impression; a luxury nigh-on impossible to come by in today’s hyper-competitive healthcare marketplace.
It comes as no surprise then, that patients’ first impressions are crucial to building loyalty, trust, and rapport with their healthcare provider.
Patient Identity Management
In addition to managing first and last impressions, hospital facility managers are tasked with overseeing a critical identity shift that occurs the instant patients arrive on campus.
When an individual seeking medical care reaches a hospital, they’re no longer recognized by their name, personality, or other positive distinguishing features. Instead, they’re known as a patient: a member of a group primarily defined by their need for treatment.
It’s this identity shift, along with first impression formation, that marks the beginning of the patient experience. It’s an isolating transition: one that, if ignored or mismanaged by healthcare providers, can become fraught with stress, anxiety, and dread.
A vast majority of administrations are already aware of this, and it’s widely understood that both first impressions and patient identity management are incredibly powerful factors at play in the patient experience. However, many are mistaken as to where these psychological processes occur on their campuses.
It’s certainly not upon interaction with clinical staff, as is commonly thought, nor is it in the lobby or waiting room. It’s not even at the building’s entrance.
Instead, it’s campus parking and transportation touchpoints; areas which Impark HEALTH advocates should be managed holistically as “patient transition zones” as acknowledgement of their primary place in the patient experience.
Identifying Patient Transition Zones
As patient transportation methods diversify and campuses succumb to sprawl, many facility managers will be tasked with identifying multiple patient transition zones on-campus. The advent of Mobility-as-a-Service, in particular, has spurred forward-thinking healthcare institutions to seek ways of nurturing and rejuvenating these zones to reflect their importance as caregiving spaces.
After all, pedestrians, drivers, cyclists, ride-hailers, and public transport passengers all transition into patients (and form first impressions) in different ways and at different times — though each becoming patients long before reaching a building entrance.
Read Impark HEALTH’s complimentary white paper to learn:
- Why parking and transportation touchpoints should be treated and managed as patient transition zones.
- How to craft exceptional first and last impressions with patient and visitors using tried-and-tested strategies.
- How you can reduce the patient anxiety triggers in your patient transition zones today.