BRAND REPUTATION AND PATIENT SATISFACTION IN HEALTHCARE
In a competitive healthcare industry, branding of an organization is a valuable intangible asset. Kim et al (2008) explained that hospital branding is important because patients could better visualize and understand the healthcare services they provide and reduced the perceived risk before they seek medical aid; in turn allowing the organization to increase relationship revenue, improve company’s profitability and patient loyalty. The proposition that strong and positive brand image allows corporate company to gain representational value, attract new shareholder investment, increase company’s market share value and boost competitive advantage. A favorable brand reputation also improves various service quality outcomes such as patient satisfaction, patient loyalty, and improve patient’s return rate.
According to Zaithaml (1988), quality management system is one of the main factors influencing the overall healthcare delivery system due to the constant augmentation and increase in service efficiency that leads to increased patient satisfaction and brand loyalty. In the past, approaches to service quality in healthcare has been limited to primarily physician-centered views on clinical outcome rather than focusing on value-based care as a whole.
In the context of healthcare marketing, organizational brand and reputation plays a significant role in representing its business entities in the market and provides a competitive edge within the healthcare industry. However, literature reviews found that the evaluation of brand reputation in past studies were only done on tangible products within the retailing industry and not within the settings of healthcare service. Wu (2011) expressed that this major research deficiency and under examined perceived service quality from the healthcare marketing standpoint might result in the lack of insight towards patient satisfaction and the correlation with brand reputation within the healthcare context.
While the service industry does heavily rely on brand reputation, healthcare service industry in particular faces unique challenges. As the number of private healthcare hospitals are increasing in Malaysia, the competitive advantage in business and branding has risen tremendously due to the open door policies that medical services adhered to. Hence, healthcare service are shifting their conventional product-oriented marketing strategy and started emphasizing the importance of patient-oriented marketing. This endeavour of new marketing strategy aims at promoting brand image to enhance patient satisfaction and loyalty.
With a positive brand reputation and credible market positioning, healthcare service industry are able to attract self-reliant, quality-conscious and cost-aware patients. Qualified, experienced and committed employees are also important key elements in positive service experience. Foroudi (2019) argued that brand reputation required time to build and continuous improvement to maintain. Some organizations opt for a short term loss to improve their brand reputation and secure long term business growth. Reputation can be a strong commodity, but it can also resembles a sheet of thin ice as bad actions and reviews by customers could do much worse impact compared to years build of good reviews.
Since health care service industry deals with human health and well-being, the perceived reputation of the brand is crucial. In parallel, if patients choose to acquire their healthcare treatments according to the brand reputation of a specific organization that they are loyal to, it is only effective that every organization were to measure their reputation on the basis of customer’s perception. With the increase in consumer’s purchasing power and the choices of private healthcare facilities in Malaysia, hospitals need to continuously enhance patient’s overall experiences and communicate effectively with the community they serve.