Let’s take a moment to talk about a very important aspect of the healthcare industry – patient retention.
Is your office sick?
Any healthcare organization can suffer from the same ailment, their customer base is always in fluctuation. It simply is never going to be a fixed and permanent number. It is always a challenge to maintain a strong patient retention strategy. Why? Because there are many factors involved in retaining patients, but at the core, is the skills of the doctor(s), the friendliness of the staff, and the overall atmosphere everyone creates within the practice.
How can health care providers retain patients?
Assuming that your doctors and staff are competent and friendly, you can simply retain patients with better service. There will always be some attrition with patients in a practice either through death or because life changed and they moved, but if you implement the following 10 strategies you will become more likely to retain a larger number of your patients.
Make appointment scheduling an easy task for your patients. The process for appointments must be hassle-free. If the patients face difficulty scheduling an appointment, they are bound to get irritated and will go somewhere else. We’re all creatures of ease and comfort so the slightest perceived issue and patients will go to another health care provider who has a better system in place for scheduling. Keep it simple and efficient so anyone looking to book an appointment can easily and quickly do so.
Notifying your patients when an appointment is set and confirmed is an absolute must for increasing patient retention. And the great thing is it’s as easy as sending a confirmation text or an email to remind them about their appointment. Plus, this simple act is a great opportunity to show appreciation to your patients for allowing your practice to provide care and this type of system can be automated with the help of patient loyalty software.
A website is the online identity of your brand. By having a website with helpful information about your practice, the services you provide and what’s needed for a visit, you will actually encourage current and potential patients to make the call and select your office. Another reason to have a professional website for your practice is that it’s helpful for the existing patients in case they lose your contact information. All they need to do is a quick search and there’s your website with the necessary information. Speaking of which, always check and update the basic information about your practice – phone number, office address, service hours, etc. on both the website and a registered Google My Business listing. This is especially crucial since mobile devices have become so crucial in the online experience.
The final thing to consider about your website is the search engine optimization (SEO) of your website so that it can easily be found by the major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.). Customers may not remember your website’s URL, but if it ranks well, then it can easily be searched for and the needed information found.
Earlier it was mentioned that your website or business needs to be listed on a Google My Business (GMB) listing page. The reason for this is that Google is considered to be the most popular search engine on the planet meaning people usually use Google for their searches. Having an accurate GMB listing will ensure your information comes up on Google search results along with the map view of the exact location where your office is located. Although Google is “The King of Search Engines”, this doesn’t mean you should completely overlook others like Bing or Yahoo. Taking the time to update your business’ listing on these platforms is just another way to make sure as many people as possible find you.
No one wants to arrive for their doctor’s appointment and have to wait but, unfortunately, it just can’t be avoided due to demand or patient flow. Fortunately, you can make the experience a little nicer by engaging patients with some simple activities like current magazines, newspapers, or any form of a simple game. Doing so will improve patient retention and make them happy since they won’t feel the boredom of waiting as much.
Provide Easy Parking
Adequate parking options actually make patients or patient helpers feel comfortable. Why? Since they will not face any anxiety about the security of their cars or worry about the ease of access for mobility challenged patients. Simply, consider making some reserved spots for patients only, then the doctors, and then other employees. It conveys the message that the patient is first in all things.
Offer several payment options for patients to use when paying their bills. These can be Debit Card, Credit Cards, Online transfer, Checks, Cash, etc., or even other ones like PayPal or iPay. Providing options will reduce hassle and lead to quicker payments for the office. It will also make the patients feel special because you’ve offered so many convenient choices.
Flexible Office Hours
Patients may need treatments more often than the standard 9-5 so if your office hours can be flexible you’ll have a significant advantage over other doctor offices. Having flexible hours means patient retention improves as they can come to your vs. a clinic or the emergency room.
Patient feedback and reviews are paramount for your office’s success. Engage your patients at the front desk during check out to improve patient retention. Ask whether they liked your service or if there’s anything that requires an improvement or more attention. Another possibility is to send out a survey. And, if you decide to change something per your patients’ feedback, let them know how you have implemented their idea. Again, they will feel validated and special because everyone loves to be listened to.
Engaging patients with health-related information will keep them well-informed and interested in their on-going treatments. Do you post blogs on your website, social media, a newsletter, or a monthly publication? If yes, you will provide great learning opportunities for your patients to become engaged in their health plans.
Healthcare Practices need to provide patients with a robust customer experience. Doing so will make patients happier, motivated to come again for additional treatments. Also, they are likely to refer others to your practice. Following these simple rules will allow you to easily improve patient retention and thereby boost patient loyalty.