5 Patient Retention Strategies to Keep Your Clients Coming Back
Patient retention is an important measurement of the percentage of patients who return to your office for multiple visits. It is a key part of any healthcare office’s strategy for success, and a reasonable indicator of the general level of patient engagement. From a monetary standpoint, patient retention is incredibly valuable. It’s a long-established fact in retail that retaining customers is far more cost-effective than acquiring new customers, and that truth carries over to healthcare practices as well.
But, despite its importance, improving patient retention is a difficult task.
There are a number of different ways to encourage patient retention, and the best practices make use of them all in order to achieve the highest retention rates. To get you started, this article will detail five patient retention strategies your office can use to create long-lasting relationships with your clientele.
Table of Contents
- How to Increase Patient Retention
- 5 Patient Retention Strategies
- Good Patient Engagement
- How Great Patient Engagement Increases Patient Retention
- Tools to Help Increase Patient Retention
How to Increase Patient Retention
Because no two practices are the same, increasing patient retention requires two fundamental things:
- A willingness to try a number of different approaches
- The ability to measure the results
Experimenting with different strategies and tracking how they work will allow your office to find the right combination for reaching your patients and driving up your retention rate.
5 Patient Retention Strategies
- Build Relationships With Patients
Personal relationships are key to building patient loyalty. When the patient feels like you know them as a person, not just another warm body in the exam room, they will be more likely to continue using your office for their healthcare needs.
Like any professional relationship, the patient/provider relationship needs to be nurtured from both sides. Take time to get to know about your patients’ activities and interests, their families, their pets, and other things that are important to them. You can even keep this information in your notes so you can refer back to during future visits. And it can be practical for healthcare reasons as well—if you know that a patient plays in a competitive softball league, for example, you’ll know to spend extra time checking for premature wear and tear on their joints during their next physical.
- Invest in Your Online Presence
A key way to keep patients coming back is to ensure that it’s easy for them to do so—and these days that means meeting them online. Your website should reflect your practice and be a welcoming, easy-to-navigate experience. If it looks old and out of touch, your patients may just start to think of your office that way as well.
This extends to using modern methods of communication as well. Nearly half the population expects to use technology to communicate with their physicians and other healthcare providers. Make sure your office is ready for them with online patient portal capabilities, secure texting options, and video-chat technology. There’s a popular saying that the best ability is availability—making yourself easily available to your patients will keep them from looking for a different provider who is easier to get a hold of.
- Make Scheduling and Billing Easy
Patients shouldn’t have to pick up a phone to schedule an appointment—unless they want to. They should have the option to book their visits with you online
, and to fill out as much pre-appointment paperwork as possible before stepping foot in your office. After all, the easier it is for them to see you, the more likely they are to see you.
No one enjoys paying medical bills, but you can help build patient loyalty by making sure your payment process is as easy and painless as possible for them. You can do this by offering a variety of payment options and by working with insurance companies to make sure patient claims are processed quickly and efficiently. Accepting payments online allows patients to pay their bills on their own schedule, when it’s the most convenient for them, which makes it more likely to happen promptly.
- Turn Your Waiting Room Into a Welcoming Room
Patients inevitably spend more time in the waiting room than they’d like—so make your waiting room as welcoming as possible for them. Your waiting room should also convey your practice’s personality, whether you go for a cozy vibe with comfortable chairs and warm lighting, or a modern approach with vibrant colors and lively artwork. Remember, it’s going to be a new patient’s first in-person experience with your office, so how do you want them to feel?
Of course, you can cut down on time spent in the waiting room by making use of virtual care solutions for visits where an in-person consultation simply isn’t necessary. If you don’t need to physically examine someone or perform any sort of lab work, you may be able to save time for you both by conducting your visit virtually.
- Win Back Former Patients
If a patient misses an appointment, it doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. In fact, even if it’s been several years since you’ve last seen a particular patient it is still possible to get them back to your office. Reminders for regularly scheduled checkups, greetings for birthdays or other milestones, or a regular office newsletter are all great ways to get your name in front of patients (or former patients) without being overly pushy or salesy. Sometimes that’s all it takes to remind a patient that they’re past due to see you.
Former patients are easier to get back if you know why they’re leaving—which is why patient surveys are an important tool for your practice. Surveys help you keep tabs on what your patients like (and dislike) about your practice. As you make the changes your patients want to see, you can let your former patients know about them. You may just deliver the news they’ve been waiting to hear before booking their next appointment.
Good Patient Engagement
No patient retention strategy is complete without also focusing on patient engagement, which is a way of quantifying patient satisfaction. Patient engagement is a far-reaching topic that is more than deserving of its own deep dive, so consider making time to do just that—it will be time well spent for your practice.
How Great Patient Engagement Increases Patient Retention
The more engaged your patients are, the more likely they are to follow ongoing care instructions—leading to better health outcomes—and to come back for future visits. Engaged patients also tend to have a more positive impression of the overall patient experience, meaning a higher level of general satisfaction. This translates into more recommendations of your practice to friends, family, co-workers, and others.
Boosting patient engagement is a complicated process that goes well beyond the scope of this particular article, but there are a few basic strategies you can employ to get started:
- Survey patients after each visit and address any concerns they have in a timely manner.
- Find ways to go above and beyond to ensure that each patient feels valued and appreciated.
- Have patients play an active role in their decision making and ongoing care.
If you’re interested in taking a deeper look at patient engagement, we’ve got you covered.
Tools to Help Increase Patient Retention
A good patient retention rate is essential to the success of any healthcare organization. By focusing on patient satisfaction, developing strong relationships, and making use of technology, you can create long-lasting relationships with your patients.
Here are some tools to help you get there:
Telehealth and Video Chat
Virtual care and telehealth rose to prominence in response to social distancing requirements, but they are here to stay–take a look at this telehealth infographic to see some eye-opening statistics about the importance of virtual care. Telehealth solutions are convenient for you and your patients, reducing wait times, eliminating unnecessary commutes, and allowing the same quality of care as traditional, in-person office visits. Take a closer look at virtual care solutions.
Reminders are a great way to make sure patients make it to their appointments, whether it’s their first one or their fiftieth. Make use of smart scheduling and automation by sending automated reminders—whether by phone, text, or email—to avoid unexpected no-shows. See how patient reminders can help your practice.
Once someone visits your website, it’s relatively easy to use computer algorithms to target them with ads for your practice. The easiest way to do this is to outsource it to patient-retention marketing specialists.
Online Medical Forms
The old-fashioned experience of sitting in a waiting room and filling out page after page of patient information is something that should be left in the past. Instead, have patients fill out forms electronically, ahead of time, when it’s convenient for them. Learn more about electronic forms.
Improving your patient retention rates is an ongoing journey, but it’s not one you’ll have to take alone. If you’re ready to see how a world-class solution can help you build patient relationships and keep your clients coming back to see you, look no further than Updox.