How Communicating with Your Patients Through Digital Channels Can Improve Patient Retention
It’s February of a brand-new year and what can we say; with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we have love on our minds! Mostly, we want to help you show and receive “love” to your patients. Like most of us, you may have heard the statistics about how it costs 5 times more to obtain a new patient than it does to keep one. No matter how you look at it, patient retention matters as does the lifetime value each patient brings to your practice. The components of cultivating a relationship with your patients aren’t unlike the components needed to nurture any relationship! Showing interest in them, staying in touch, offering them what they need and giving them what they want are good ways to prevent a “break-up”. What is the best way to stay interested in your patients and keep them engaged with you and your practice, you may ask? While there isn’t just one answer here, we have come up with some easy solutions that can all be managed digitally, without making your patients feel like just a number.
“The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing.” – John Russell
Start Out with a Good Foundation
It goes without saying, that if the patient experience “live” and in person with your practice isn’t a good one, all the patient retention tools in the world won’t fix it. Your front office staff should be friendly and efficient, scheduling and wait times need to be managed properly and of course excellent medical care is just the beginning of laying the foundation for happy patients who keep coming back.
In the age of Google searches and Web MD, your patients have a lot of information at their fingertips. The quality of this information is not always reliable, and it is easy for the average person to get overwhelmed and confused. As an expert health provider, you have an opportunity to provide education to your patients (and future patients for that matter) through the publication of your own articles and blogs. For example, if you are a plastic surgeon, and most of your procedures are breast augmentations, then providing an FAQ or an article outlining that particular surgery would be providing a great service. In addition, publishing this information on your site is a great way to optimize your website for search optimization (making sure your site is at the top of the page in a Google search).
Social media has evolved tremendously over the years. The reach available to you on Facebook alone is staggering. At any given time, there are over half a billion people logged in, searching for news, entertainment and information. Your patients are among them! According to an article published by the Mayo Clinic, patients want to “meet you” before they “meet you” and social media is the first place they look. If you aren’t present, you are missing an enormous opportunity to connect. And when we say, “connect” this doesn’t mean your office manager sharing recipes, political opinions and jokes on your Facebook page (yes, this has happened). Providing informational content about you, your staff, your practice and your area of expertise are ways to show what you do and who you are to your patients (again, to potential patients as well). You have the ability to provide them with the information they crave in an environment in which they are comfortable. Hey, and that great article you wrote and posted on your site? Share it on social media to position yourself as a reliable resource while broadening your reach even more! Social media is also a great platform to provide special offers just for your “fans”. As a bonus, if you are paying attention, how the audience reacts to what you post is very telling, and often provides the road map to what your patients need from you as a doctor.
Stay in Touch
In the United states, patients visit the doctor just 4 times per year. This is significantly less than in other developed countries, mostly because of cost according to Forbes. Staying “top of mind” with your patients the other 361 days of the year is key to patient retention. Gathering email addresses and utilizing a CRM or an email tool to schedule regular communication with patients is not only cost efficient, it is an effective way to connect. Beyond appointment reminders and birthday messages, the opportunity to provide your patients with relevant information and education (yep, you guessed it, the article we talked about above can be distributed via email as well) is one that shouldn’t be overlooked. For elective procedures and services, offer patients special pricing and incentives! A monthly newsletter is also a great place to highlight your staff and even feature special patients.
With healthcare costs going up, and the immense choices patients have when it comes to who they select to meet their healthcare needs, patient retention has never been so important. By taking a few simple steps to keep engaged with your clientele, you will keep your patients coming back again and again.
Looking for someone to help you with your patient retention strategy? Contact us at PracticeDock for a free consultation to determine the best tools for you.