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Innovations in Health Care Delivery
March 1, 2016

Health System Loyalty Programs: An Innovation in Customer Care and Service

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of General Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • 2Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
JAMA. 2016;315(9):863-864. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.19463

Many people belong to loyalty programs for coffee shops, hotel chains, or airlines. Despite a highly consumer-oriented approach in some health systems, similar types of loyalty programs have not been developed. Why this disconnect for customer loyalty between health care and other industries?

Businesses have long focused on customer service and loyalty programs for a number of reasons. First, the acquisition of new customers is well known to be more costly than retention of existing ones; ensuring a stable customer base is thus germane to corporate financial success.1 Second, most participants in loyalty programs have a positive predisposition toward the sponsoring company—that is, they are more likely to overlook problems and inconveniences when given specific perks.2 Third, participants in loyalty programs often provide positive referrals, encouraging others to frequent the company or experience the product, thus enhancing customer base and revenue. It is little wonder that businesses across innumerable products and sectors have embraced the concept of customer loyalty.

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