January 16, 2019
Research shows that losing an existing patient is exponentially more expensive than acquiring a new one. One compelling reason is that approximately 80% of revenues will be generated by existing customers or patients. But the majority of healthcare practice marketing efforts are focused exclusively on new patient acquisition. These stats underscore the need to consciously incorporate effective patient retention strategies into every healthcare practice marketing and management plan.
Technology Offers Multiple Solutions
Appropriate technology can have a multifaceted impact to enhance patient retention efforts. The right automated systems can help to streamline healthcare practice processes, resolve inefficiencies, eliminate human oversight and error, and reduce administrative burdens. Thanks to advances in technology, practices now have affordable access to sophisticated and customizable turnkey software solutions. Leveraging those can enable practices to focus more time and attention on delivery of higher-quality care.
Personalize Patient Interactions
Every hour saved by improving workflow and organizational efficiency can be reinvested to increase patient satisfaction and retention. That will produce a strong, sustainable ROI. Free up staff to be more attentive to patients and reduce wait times on the phone and in the office. Invest extra minutes to listen to patient concerns, explain procedures and treatments, and answer questions about follow-up care. Offer more face-to-face engagement between doctors and patients. Become more intentional about strengthening relationships with patients, at every step of the process.
Take Advantage of Pre-Visit Planning
Pre-visit planning is another time and labor saver that can enhance the patient experience. Pre-visit plans can be shared through a secure online patient portal to collect patient information, identify gaps in care, and automatically schedule or reschedule appointments. Patients may be able to conveniently fill out much of their time-consuming paperwork at home, instead of having to deal with that when they show up for an appointment.
Help Patients Solve Payment Obstacles
Worry about the inability to pay for care is one of the biggest reasons why patients fail to return to healthcare practices. The more that can be done to simplify and manage payments, the better patient retention rates will be. Insurance eligibility and cost estimates can and should be confirmed in advance. Statements and bills should be easy to read and understand. Multiple payment options can also be offered, including financing to assist those patients who self-pay or are confronted by high insurance deductibles.
Follow Up After Each Visit
Using email to communicate with patients after each appointment is a personal touch that expresses appreciation and acknowledges that the patient is valued. It can be a simple thank-you or a next appointment reminder and confirmation. Email surveys can also be used to solicit feedback. That makes the patient feel that they have a voice in how the practice is ran, and it can reveal ways to bolster retention rates. Post-treatment and post-op phone calls to the patient also help ensure that home care guidelines are followed, and prescriptions are effectively managed. Follow-up protocols like these send a clear message that the practice is interested in the continued well-being of each patient.
Not only will these proactive strategies make it easier to retain patients, but patients will be inspired to recommend the practice to others. That simultaneously solves two of the biggest healthcare practice challenges.