What is a Grateful Patient Program – and What does it Mean for You?

A Grateful Patient Program can help you buy equipment to save more lives, fund new labs, or even pay for a canine program that provides pet therapy to patients. It can be the funding bridge that allows you to help more patients than you can through traditional hospital revenues.

The Benefits of a Grateful Patient Program

The best part of a Grateful Patient Program is that those who contribute do so with joy and open hearts. They are patients and family members who appreciate the special care that your hospital provided. You may have seen hospitals with rooms, wings or departments named for a past patient. The funding for these most likely came from a monetary gift as a gesture of thanks.

It’s a win-win situation. Patients win by sharing their expression or gratitude by giving a gift. Hospitals win by getting funding to pay for programs to help others.

While Grateful Patient Programs typically focus on a patient and their family, other people also want to help. One WealthEngine client used our database to identify a potential donor they had not talked to previously. During their lunch meeting, the prospective donor wanted to see a direct impact of their funds. The hospital’s major gift officer discussed new equipment to do hand surgeries on small children. Immediately after lunch, they drove to the bank and the donor gave a 5-figure check to buy the equipment.

When the gift officer showed the doctor this check, he immediately had his staff contact all of the parents whose children could not get surgeries earlier. The staff explained that thanks to a generous donor the hospital will be getting the equipment and they can now schedule their child’s surgery.

This story highlights the importance of presenting context to potential donors so they understand how their gift will be used. The donor’s funds had an immediate impact on many lives that were transformed by this gift.

What is a Grateful Patient?

When a patient receives treatment and expresses immense gratitude, they may be a candidate for your grateful patient program. Past patients or patient families have a natural affinity for your hospital and are usually good prospects for fundraising. Those who are contacted within 30-60 days of their hospital encounter are more likely to give than those who don’t receive a timely solicitation.

It’s this combination of affinity and results that lead many hospitals and hospital foundations to develop a Grateful Patient Program (GPP).

A Grateful Patient Program is a systematic approach to cultivating past patients and families to become hospital donors.  So, programs usually take a data-driven approach; supplementing your patient records with greater insights into potential donors capacity to give, propensity to give and other lifestyle attributes. Outreach may involve anything from direct mail or newsletters, to in-person meetings or direct solicitations. Using data from tools like WealthEngine can help you with predictive prospecting to find your best potential donors. Further, creating a wealth model of your patients provides insights on who is most likely to donate. When you implement a Grateful Patient Program correctly, it can become a significant revenue stream with a strong return on investment.

GPP Action Plan

While Grateful Patient Programs vary significantly in scope and size, there are several keys to keep in mind:

  1. Get internal groups on board and involve them in planning and execution. This ensures that hospital administration, legal/compliance, IT and even physicians and nursing staff are aware and supportive of the program and the approach of using ethical marketing. It will help create a culture of philanthropy and make the program run more smoothly.
  2. Determine your program objectives. Are you building your annual fund? Cultivating future major givers? Creating services for current donors? When your intent is clear, you can define the type of data you need and how often you need it.
  3. Develop an action plan for the data. Identifying which patients to approach about grateful patient giving involves using publicly available information. No private records or data are used to identify potential donors. Screening and modeling tools like WealthEngine only use public data like real estate records or political contributions. Who should have access to your patient screening data and for what purpose? How are you going to classify or segment these new prospects? What sort of outreach will you do and how frequently?
  4. Define metrics for success. Whether you use number, amount of frequency of gifts, define reasonable metrics by which you can demonstrate success. Successful grateful patient programs can generate a 20x return on investment within 3 years.

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