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5 patient retention strategies proven to work for healthcare practices

Recall patients again and again with effective patient retention strategies.

Many practices are so laser-focused on attracting new patients that they inadvertently neglect existing ones. Patient retention is crucial, because the average person in the U.S. spends more than $10,300 annually on healthcare, according to 2016 data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

It costs less to retain a new patient than get a new one, returning patients drive greater ROI, happy patients can be your best advocates — and that’s only a few reasons to invest in keeping people coming back for your care. Read on to learn patient retention strategies that work.

1. Deliver excellent service

When patients come to your office, they want more than just an accurate diagnosis. If you display a poor bedside manner, they won’t be in a hurry to return. Keeping people informed, treating them with respect, displaying compassion, and following up after treatment serve as excellent patient retention strategies, because it makes them feel valued.

Of course, you’re not the only person patients interact with at your practice. It’s imperative they receive first-rate service from all employees, including your office staff. If patients dread calling to make appointments, because they don’t want to deal with your rude receptionist or always encounter billing errors, they might decide to seek care elsewhere.

Read: How to attract and retain patients by focusing on your front office staff

2. Leverage personalization

Your patients deserve a doctor who truly cares. Personalizing their experience makes them feel like more than just a number.

Accomplish this during in-office visits by asking lots of questions, conducting a thorough examination, and creating a personalized care plan based on your findings. Patients don’t like to be treated with a one-size-fits-all approach to medicine, so take the time to explain why you believe your chosen strategy meets their unique needs.

If you engage with patients through email or an online portal, convey your caring demeanor virtually. Write personalized responses, and always include the person’s name to ensure the message sounds like it was written just for them — not copied and pasted boilerplate text.

3. Offer modern conveniences

Patients appreciate a practice that makes their life easier. In today’s digital era, there’s plenty of ways to accomplish this.

Online scheduling is a major convenience, because it allows patients to make immediate bookings on a 24/7 basis, without having to pick up the phone. This feature is clearly popular with patients, as 81 percent of patients would schedule a doctor’s appointment online if they could, according to one recent survey.

Take it a step further by offering additional services that give your practice a competitive edge. For example, consider making intake forms available online before appointments, offer telemedicine, institute a 24/7 contact line, or offer a patient portal.

Listen: What patients want, online scheduling edition – the Practice Growth Podcast

4. Proactively seek feedback

If patients aren’t pleased with their visit, there’s a good chance they’ll take their business to another provider. Numbers don’t lie, so do note that 27 percent of healthcare providers have lost patients to other practices, according to our 2018 Online Reputation Management Survey.

Sending patient satisfaction surveys after every visit is a great way to gain valuable feedback that can improve your reputation. Use the responses to learn what you’re doing well and where there’s room for improvement.

Giving people a voice makes them feel empowered. One of the best patient retention strategies, this is an easy way to open the lines of communication and promptly address issues that might otherwise cause them to head to another practice.

Check out: 4 ways patient feedback can help improve your healthcare practice

5. Continually educate and inform

Engage patients outside the office by launching a robust marketing strategy. Start a blog where you can provide education on topics important to your patient base, while showcasing your expertise.

Establish a social media presence, and publish a steady stream of content to connect with patients. Hearing from you regularly will keep your practice on their mind, and could even serve as a reminder to book preventative screenings that might otherwise be forgotten.

Never stop accepting new patients, but also understand the importance of preserving your existing base. If your retention rates aren’t particularly high at the moment, there’s no time like the present to turn things around.

Need to brush up on bedside manner best practices? Read the blog post “How adjusting your bedside manner can boost patient retention.”

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