LINCOLN, Neb., Aug. 27, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- NRC Health, the leading provider of in-depth customer intelligence in healthcare, today announced the winners of its 2017-2018 NRC Health Consumer Loyalty Awards. The Consumer Loyalty Awards are the first, and only loyalty-based hospital rankings in the U.S. The awards recognize the top healthcare facilities garnering extraordinary loyalty from their patient populations today as identified and rated by over 300,000 U.S. consumers. CHI Memorial Hospital Chattanooga earned the number one ranking on the inaugural consumer loyalty list while the University of California healthcare system and Kaiser Permanente each placed three hospitals on the list, the only healthcare systems to do so.

While the top hospitals scored exceptionally high in categories like access and motivation, scores in the engagement category remain low comparatively. Despite a growing focus on loyalty, hospitals still have much work to do in bolstering engagement with patients and other consumers and as patients increasingly view their healthcare through a consumer lens, hospitals must find ways to keep up with those expectations.

“Consumers have more choice than they’ve ever had when it comes to their healthcare,” said Brian Wynne, VP and General Manager at NRC Health. “Those hospitals that are proactive about cultivating and maintaining consumer loyalty will ultimately be the ones who will dominate the market. NRC Health’s Consumer Loyalty Award winners are at the forefront of this shift towards a consumer-centered approach to care and we predict that these organizations will continue to be top performers in the years to come.”

Major metros still boast more leading facilities but competition is heating up
In addition to ranking the top hospitals, NRC Health’s Consumer Loyalty Awards revealed that increasing competition in large urban areas, like Chicago and Los Angeles, is forcing hospitals to differentiate and do more for patients in order to earn their loyalty. Both cities boasted four hospitals in the top rankings.

While large metros may be the most competitive, the rankings confirm that there are top performing hospitals all across the country, and not just on the coasts. As patients’ willingness to travel for healthcare continues to rise, and new innovation around telemedicine solutions builds more and more momentum, hospitals are being forced to compete with not only their regional rivals, but also those facilities far outside their traditional geographic boundaries.

Consumers not sold on systems, despite continued network growth
Ninety percent of the top hospitals are part of larger networks; however, only 11 systems had multiple hospitals make the list. Regardless, the majority of the winners were primarily hospital-based or flagship facilities, meaning patients experienced a healthcare brand at the facility level, often without even being aware they were part of a larger network. With nearly 40 percent of consumers reporting it makes no difference whether a hospital is part of a healthcare system, it’s clear that consumers are less concerned with a hospital’s affiliation, so long as they receive premier treatment.

“We expected a lot of the more recognizable names to make our inaugural loyalty-based list, but we were pleasantly surprised to see a good mix of facilities represented across the country, including community hospitals in smaller markets,” Wynne added. “Ultimately, every system, no matter how big or small, has blind spots in the consumer journey. The top hospitals on this list prove that it doesn’t matter to patients if they are part of a huge system or a community hospital or somewhere in between. As long as their healthcare services are intentionally designed to inspire loyalty, patients will recognize those efforts, regardless of a hospital’s affiliation.”

Though hospitals do gain access to more resources and can cut down costs by joining larger networks, the Consumer Loyalty survey results reveal that being a part of a larger brand does not guarantee increased consumer loyalty.

Hospitals focusing more on wellness versus episodic care
Hospitals are acting more and more like technology companies, focusing on holistic care, wellness and empowering patients to become more engaged through the use of mobile apps and other digital touchpoints. According to research from the American Hospital Association, 70 percent of patients say they became more engaged with their healthcare during the past two years.

Among the 71 percent of provider organizations citing patient engagement as a top priority is McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, South Carolina. The facility earned the top honor for Patient Engagement in the NRC Health Consumer Loyalty Awards, proving that today’s patients turned consumers are no longer interested in receiving a singular healthcare service. They want an experience that's enjoyable, not just transactional, as evidenced by the success of McLeod Regional’s philanthropic and community-based programming, like blood drives, childbirth prep classes, AARP safety driving courses, summer camps for kids, cancer benefits, scholarship runs and more.

About NRC Health’s Consumer Loyalty Awards 
To qualify for the NRC Health Consumer Loyalty Awards, a hospital must receive at least 150 Top of Mind mentions on the Market Insights Internet-based survey, which measures the opinions, behaviors, and profiles of more than 300,000 consumers annually in more than 300 markets across the U.S. Additionally, ranking organizations must earn extraordinarily high composite scores on the seven aspects of the NRC Health Loyalty Index: access, brand score, engagement, need, motivation, experience and Net Promoter Score (NPS). The facilities across the country with the top composite scores are awarded.

Results are weighted to account for age, income, population, presence of children in the household, marital status, and ethnicity to ensure an accurate demographic distribution.

About NRC Health
For 37 years, NRC Health (NASDAQ: NRC) has been committed to achieving human understanding and bringing healthcare organizations closer to their customers than ever before by illuminating and improving the key moments that define an experience and build trust. Guided by their uniquely empathic heritage, proprietary methods, skilled associates, and holistic approach, NRC Health helps its customers design experiences that exceed expectations, inspire loyalty, and improve well-being among patients, residents, physicians, nurses, and staff.

For more information, write to info@nrchealth.com, or visit www.nrchealth.com.

Press Contact
Jennifer Lyle
Public Relations for NRC Health
nrchealth@barokas.com