You’ve probably heard the phrase “Dance with the one that brought you”. In a nutshell, it means the person you are currently with is the person you should pay the most attention to. Translate that axiom to a business model, and it presents the perfect way to demonstrate the topic of this month’s blog:
The Importance of Patient Retention
Now, we’re not in any way saying that bringing new patients into your practice is not important. New patient acquisition is and should always be an integral part of your growth model. But did you know the cost of getting a new patient is an estimated five to ten times more than keeping an old one? What-what?!? For this reason (among others), we propose that nurturing loyal patients is a powerful strategy that helps businesses grow.
On to the how.
Build Relationships, Build Retention
A little work ahead of time by your front desk team means that every patient who walks through the doors to your practice can be greeted by name. Imagine hearing “Hello, Mr./Mrs.______. It’s so nice to see you!” Compared to the generic and dry “How can I help you?” The first greeting is warm, enthusiastic and sets the foundation for building a relationship with this patient. They are more than a number. More than another appointment. They are a human with a name you took time to learn. Someone worth the time and investment. Trust us, patient retention will soar.
There are a million little ways to build relationships with your patients. For example, if your medical record system allows for notes in patient charts (and most do!), take time to add small nuggets of information about each patient you encounter. Just imagine how delighted a patient will feel when a team member asks them about their dog who recently had hip surgery or about their much-anticipated trip to the Grand Canyon with family?
Provide an Elite Level of Service
In today’s healthcare climate, where patients have more choices than ever, the best way to ensure your patients stay your patients and don’t move on to another provider is by providing an elite level of service. From first touch to procedure day, final follow-up visit and every moment in between, make sure your patients feel valued, heard, respected and cared for.
Beyond the little things, it should go without saying that the actual medical care your patients receive from your providers should be second to none. So, invest in providers who share that elite mindset.
Make Your Patients’ Lives Easier
See a patient struggling with the mobile check-in station? Do not turn a blind eye! Instead, walk over to the patient and offer to help guide them through the process. What other ways can you make the lives of your patients easier? Text appointment reminders so they don’t have to keep up with tiny cards tossed into the bottom of their purse? Scheduling next year’s comprehensive eye exam before they leave from today’s? Look for ways to delight each patient, improving or simplifying their day in some way! This will help in creating a seamless patient experience and will build loyalty.
Being an effective communicator will get you far in this life. In the same way, having good patient communication within your medical practice will pay dividends in patient loyalty and retention. Think about it. What’s worse than showing up for an appointment only to find out you were supposed to be fasting but didn’t know it? Or you were supposed to bring a certain item but don’t recall anyone ever letting you know about it? Or you needed a referral but never saw the email where that piece of information was buried? Frustrating!
Make clear communication a cornerstone of your patient experience. Like Brenė Brown (the Queen!) says, Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind. So clearly let your patients know every single solitary thing they need to know in order to have a successful visit.
This can look different depending on the information being communicated. Take time to develop scripting for front desk and check-out teams that covers FAQs and common scenarios. Invest in well-written and well-designed collateral pieces for the procedures your practice offers and the conditions your practice treats.
A few key areas where communication is king:
- Timeliness. Is the doctor running behind schedule? Let the patient know! Apologize sincerely, tell them you’re going to get an update, get that update and communicate what the patient can expect. This simple step can go a long way in unruffling ruffled feathers.
- Procedure knowledge. You can’t hope for a patient to be excited about an elective procedure if your sales team/phone team/support staff can’t genuinely and confidently talk about how that procedure can improve that patient’s life.
- Personality. Any team member who is patient-facing needs to be able to communicate with patients in a way that is genuinely warm, inviting and friendly while still being professional.
Partner with a Trusted Expert
In a busy medical practice, it can seem daunting to think about and implement all these retention strategies. Don’t go it alone! A trusted marketing and public relations partner can help make these important areas are covered within your practice.
At Miller Public Relations, we believe in best practices for medical practices; it is the way toward growth and the well-being of your brand. We have the conviction and the resources to guide your team in this area of patient retention.
We want to help you elevate and strengthen your brand by developing an Ambassadorial Business Model, where patients return again and again, are excited to talk about their experience with your practice and will refer their friends and family. Let’s get started.