For your clinic to grow and thrive, you should focus not only on attracting new patients but on retaining existing ones. But what patient retention strategies should your clinic use to build patient loyalty? From this blog post, you’ll learn about nine patient retention strategies that work. But first, let’s see why patient retention is crucial for your clinic.
Four key benefits of patient retention
So, what is patient retention? The sources describe this term as a set of activities intended at keeping patients for a long period and encouraging them to return to your clinic when they need healthcare services. In other words, patient retention is about winning patient loyalty.
Having a loyal patient base is an essential aspect of your clinic’s success.
Let’s see how you can benefit from implementing a strong patient retention strategy.
- 1. Increase revenue
Satisfied patients trust you more than new patients, as they already have a strong relationship with your clinic. A satisfied patient is likely to spend more than someone who has entered your clinic for the first time.
You don’t earn loyalty in a day. You earn loyalty day by day.
Trust is built through each visit, which helps patients become more confident in considering your services when they need a healthcare provider again. By establishing trust with your patients, you can retain more patients and thus increase your clinic’s revenue.
- 2. Strengthen your brand image
Your brand image is how your patients perceive your services. By having a positive brand image, you get a chance to attract new patients and increase profitability. Satisfied and happy patients are more likely to spread the word about your brand.
- 3. Reduce marketing costs
People are greatly influenced by referrals from their family and friends. This is called word of mouth marketing. It’s the cheapest and one of the most effective marketing tools that helps you attract more patients to your clinic.
- 4. Elevate brand value
Social proof is an integral part of any business. The importance of reviews and testimonials can hardly be overestimated, especially in healthcare. People get more confident about your brand when they see positive feedback about your clinic on online forums, on social media platforms, in business directories, and on other channels.
How to retain patients
Now that you know why patient retention is critical for your clinic’s success, let’s have a look at the most effective patient retention strategies you can start implementing today.
Strategy #1. Make it simple to book an appointment
Let’s start with a noteworthy statistic.
In today’s busy world, people use every opportunity to make their lives easier. When patients need healthcare services, they want to easily book when it’s convenient for them without trying to reach your receptionist during working hours. If patients can’t break through your clinic’s busy phone line to make an appointment, they will likely never consider your clinic when they need healthcare services in the future.
To avoid back-and-forth communication while booking appointments, leverage technology. Let your patients schedule, reschedule, and cancel appointments on their own 24/7 from any device by using appointment booking software.
Such solutions offer easy online appointment scheduling based on a clinic’s available time slots and free both clinic receptionists and patients from playing phone tag. Besides, these tools offer automated reminders to inform patients and practitioners about upcoming appointments.
By using appointment scheduling software for your clinic, you can provide convenience for your patients, avoid human errors that may result in cancellations or overbooking, and achieve higher patient satisfaction.
Strategy #2. Have a professional website
Your website is a place for potential patients to learn about your clinic, services, staff, treatment methods, etc. Ensure it contains up-to-date information on anything that a patient may want to find out about your facility. Provide easy navigation, ensure a clean responsive design, leave contact information in a prominent location, and share relevant content to increase your credibility.
Also, ensure your clinic’s website can be easily found in online directories like Google My Business, Google Maps, Bing Places for Business, and Yelp.
Strategy #3. Ensure you are accessible beyond appointments
There can be situations when patients need your help beyond their appointments. Ensure you provide ways for patients to communicate either directly with their practitioner or with a devoted staff member to solve their issues. This will both encourage long-lasting patient–provider relationships and result in better health outcomes.
Also, consider integrating a chatbot into your online platform (website, social media profile, messenger) to allow your patients to quickly find answers to frequently asked questions.
Strategy #4. Reduce unnecessary waiting time
Sometimes it’s impossible for the patients to book an appointment because there are no free slots left. Making them wait is a bad idea as no one lives isolated, and while you don’t have time for someone, this person is likely to find another specialist that is not as busy as you are.
So, now that you know, you need to reduce the unnecessary waiting time to ensure your patients return to you, how you can do that?
The first approach is to reschedule the meetings with the patient each time you have the video visit finished. Offer your patient to pick the free time slot, that will match their schedule and be convenient for you at the same time.
Another way to increase retention is to implement waiting lists and notifications, so that the patients who need your time know you have a free slot when you have free hours.
Strategy #5. Ensure an excellent patient experience
A smooth patient experience both in your clinic and in the digital sphere is key to strengthening patient loyalty.
To encourage your patients to enter your clinic again, make sure every aspect of their in-office experience is patient-focused by having:
- Welcoming front desk staff
- Empathic and caring personnel
- A well-designed and cozy physical environment
To improve the patient digital experience, ensure you provide convenience at each step:
- Offer online booking to free patients from the necessity to reach you within office hours
- Send appointment confirmations to let patients know everything is in order
- Send automated reminders to inform patients about upcoming appointments and reduce no-shows
- Keep paperwork to a minimum to free patients from providing the same information during each visit
- Send patient satisfaction surveys to demonstrate your interest and concern
- Let patients contact you easily to ensure they can stay in touch with you whenever they need it
- Share valuable content on social media and your website blog to inform and educate patients
- Let patients access their health-related information easily to free them from keeping notes on paper
- Let patients meet you virtually to allow patients to get help when they can’t come to your office
- Provide convenient payment options to let patients pay online for healthcare services
All of the above-mentioned options can be implemented using specific tools such as video meeting software, appointment scheduling solutions, and messengers.
To take the patient digital experience to the next level, you can use all-in-one software like ExpertBox to provide maximum convenience to your patients and let them take every step of their journey in the same place. With ExpertBox, patients can do everything from booking an appointment to staying in touch with a practitioner to paying for healthcare services all within one platform.
Strategy #6. Leverage social media
A regular social media presence offers your facility a big opportunity to connect with current patients through relevant up-to-date content that can help people solve their issues, learn about your brand, and make decisions.
You can share various types of content ranging from informative to image-building to educational. Ensure you’re active on social media by engaging with your audience — respond to comments, messages, questions, and mentions.
Strategy #7. Seek feedback
Collecting feedback is one of the strongest patient retention strategies. By giving people a voice, you make them feel empowered. You can collect feedback in different ways:
- Ask for feedback after a visit
- Send a poll or survey via email, messenger, a social media account, or your CRM
- Integrate feedback forms on your website
- Ask patients to leave reviews on Google Maps
- Use online survey tools like Typeform and SurveyMonkey
By offering patient satisfaction surveys, you get a chance to gain valuable feedback that you can use to improve your reputation. Collect survey responses to learn what you are doing well and where there’s room for improvement.
Also, don’t forget to share patients’ reviews and testimonials on your website and on social media. This will help you attract new patients and enhance the confidence of those who came to your clinic once, thus increasing their loyalty towards your healthcare facility.
Most importantly, be ready to implement improvements and let your patients know that you’ve taken their suggestions and requests into consideration to show that their convenience and comfort are your top priority.
Strategy #8. Improve online reputation
Sometimes even the best of us receive negative feedback for different reasons, be it a bad internet connection or problems with communication that can unexpectedly arise during an online visit. In any case, negative feedback is still feedback, and replying to it is a part of your work that can potentially increase patient retention.
In your answer pay attention to:
- Politeness. You have to stay in control of your emotions at all times and reply in a neutral tone.
- Sincerity. You have to stay objective and be sincere in your apologies and explanations.
- Solution. In case you can solve the issue, describe how you have done it, so the patient will feel that their opinion really matters to you and you are ready to hear out the issue and do everything in your power to improve the further experience.
- Sympathy. Be attentive to your patient so that they will feel you care about their situation and genuinely want to help.
- Anonymity. You can’t be personal in your reply because your patient’s data should be kept confidential at all times. You can’t disclose it.
Strategy #9. Work on effective communication
Building long-term relationships with your patients ensure the patients will return to you anytime they need your services. Effective communication has always been one of the main secrets of retention growth, so let’s learn the quick tips that will help you become better at communication:
- work on interpersonal relationships
- build trust
- stay responsive even after the video visit ends
- educate patients about ways to improve their condition
- practice active listening
- make decisions together with your patients
When it comes to the healthcare business, it’s just as important to retain current patients as it is to get new ones in your door. Implement strategies from our list and see a steady flow of patients making appointments with your practitioners. A diligent focus on the small details of the patient experience lays the foundation for your clinic’s success.