The critical nature of word of mouth (WOM) marketing as it relates to choosing hospitals, doctors and it’s overall impact on healthcare choices still needs study—after all, the decisions made are serious/important. Many recent hospital studies maintain its importance and past research certainly identifies WOM as critical in healthcare choices, as it feeds reputation. Has this factor changed as the internet has become a more important part of the consumer healthcare journey? Or has it simply transitioned into eWOM online? There is no doubt WOM is critical and how to instigate it just as important, especially when typical digital targeted efforts and direct marketing may or may not help. PR is usually the vehicle of choice (at one point Mayo measured ‘happy patient’ WOM) but as important as it is, it is not enough to work alone in this area. WOM is also about promoting ‘trust’—the structure every brand is built on. Finally, (International Journal of Business and Management; Vol. 10, No. 4; 2015) WOM is most critical in another serious/important decision: financial services, which operates in a similar manner—especially among younger people.
A recent meta analysis provides an interesting ‘round up’ on past research worth reading.