Patient retention, elements you really should consider to engender advocacy in your Patients
What do you need to think about when it comes to a Patient retention strategy? What bases must you cover and more importantly where? Like your healthcare marketing and indeed your brand, your Patient retention strategy needs to be all encompassing. In fact there is massive cross over in the three elements. All of these elements also feed into each other in order to drive your Practice.
Key thoughts for Patient retention
Every Patient facing touch point is important
Whilst the first impression is important, and indeed your approach as a healthcare provider is imperative. Every single encounter that a Patient has with your brand counts. This would include patients, other healthcare practices that are referral sources, suppliers and anyone else that your Patient may interact with in conjunction with your brand.
Treat Your patients with the respect you would expect.
In order to be a successful practice, you need to foster and maintain a strong culture of respect. You need to ensure that no patient, visitor or family member ever feel out of place or that they are an intrusion or interruption to the business of your Practice.
Pay close attention to the needs and concerns of your Patients.
You and more importantly your staff have to pay attention to patient needs. You need to listen to them when they share their concerns with you. Don’t forget, whilst you may have heard their problems voiced by other Patients a thousand times, this may be the first time that they have voiced them. So do them the simple service of treating them with the respect they deserve.
Anticipate problems that may arise in order that you can plan response.
Try to anticipate problems that may impact the retention of a Patient. This concept is similar to the work that we put into managing expectations in order to avoid cancellations. Think about it in the same manner. What problems or obstacles may arise that could impact patient retention? Plan out strategies to either deal with them or completely avoid them. Be proactive here and save yourself later heartache.
Watch your Practice schedule.
Staying on schedule, it appears to be inconsequential, but it is not. Think about the impact on your perception when you are kept waiting for an appointment. I am pretty easy going, but it is the one thing that sets me off. My ex Managing Director used to laugh at the pains I would take to be on time for a meeting. If your Patient is regularly kept waiting, they will feel that you are indifferent to them. You can be sure that this feeling whether true or not will ensure that they will look for a new healthcare provider. A perceived feeling of indifference means death to any Patient retention strategy.
Consistently survey your patients.
You plan a Patient retention strategy, you deliver that Patient retention strategy, but is it either supplying what the Patient wants or needs? Or is it being delivered in the manner you want? You will never know unless you ask and don’t just ask once. Continually ask year after year.
Establish and use a proper and comprehensive Patient management system.
The use of a good Patient management system will allow you to consistently deliver a good Patient experience. It will allow you to set out and automate a Patient journey that can assist you to retain your Patients. It can also deliver a comprehensive Patient communication strategy, a Patient loyalty scheme and other strategies that you set out to drive your Practice.
Consider these elements as you plan out your strategy and you should not go too far wrong. I think the key to Patient retention is empathy, if you feel empathy for your Patients you will treat them with respect. The best and most successful Practices I have seen are the ones that treat their Patients as almost an extended family.