Like many physician’s offices, you may put significant effort into attracting new patients. Are you dedicating enough resources to patient retention? What are you doing to keep your patients coming back?
In this day and age we’re constantly bombarded with tasks, digital distractions and managing busy schedules. At the same time, patients want simplicity, to feel valued and even the occasional perk. Here are a few ways keep your patients coming back.
Make communication and scheduling easy.
A couple of the most common complaints patients have about dealing with their doctor’s office is that they can’t quickly reach office staff or get sent straight to voicemail. You can alleviate patient frustration by avoiding letting calls go to voicemail during working hours. If patients must leave a voicemail, be sure you return the call promptly. Exceptional customer service matters in any industry, but you’ll get extra mileage by adding a personal touch when talking to your patients. Sometimes, simply using a patient’s name on the phone or in person shows loyalty and makes a big difference.
Patients don’t want to be bothered with complex scheduling. This is where your front office staff can help by scheduling follow up visits before a patient leaves your practice. If a patient needs to make an appointment on their own, make it super convenient by offering online appointment scheduling and reminder emails or texts. Use efficient new technology solutions to confirm your appointments with texts or automated messaging, and use confirmations as an opportunity to say thank you to your patients for their business.
Create an inviting, relaxing environment.
Sitting in a waiting room ranks low on most anyone’s list of favorite things to do. Have you taken the time to sit in your waiting room for 30 minutes? If you did, what would you notice? Is it a pleasant experience or one you’d rather avoid?
Creating a healing environment in physicians’ offices is a popular trend, and for good reason. Patients want to feel welcomed in a warm environment. Focus on interior design that’s comfortable for all types of patients. Some patients want to wait in a quiet area to get work done or make a phone call. Others have children who want to play or watch TV. If possible, allow space to accommodate both.
One easy way to wow your patients is by offering unexpected perks. Provide hot coffee, cold drinks and snacks. Consider putting a massage chair, offer charging stations and even iPads preloaded with games, social apps and digital magazines. It’s the little things patients will remember.
Care about your patients’ health 24/7.
It’s one thing to provide great patient care while a patient is in your office, but show your patients you care about their health beyond the walls of your practice throughout the year. Reach out to patients with prevention and screening activities. You can organize various programs for weight management, heart health, diabetes management, etc. Promote these programs via email, your website and on your social media accounts.
You can also show your patients you care about the health of their pocketbooks by providing discounts or promotions. For example, send your patients a coupon for a treat on their birthday.
Ask your patients what they think, then act.
Patient surveys are a powerful tool for building relationships and engagement. Sending a short survey following a visit shows you care about what patients think.
The catch, of course, is you must respond to a survey suggestion or complaint. Failing to act sends a negative message that you don’t care, so no matter how tough a compliant might be, use it to understand why a patient isn’t satisfied, then make a positive change. Oftentimes, you can re-engage a patient who’s about to leave your practice.
Keep patients informed about health-related topics.
Effectively using that time between appointments to send pertinent health information will help you engage patients. Try sharing health information through a blog on your website as a conduit to patient education. When you update your content, it’s a signal your practitioner(s) work to stay current and that patients should trust your clinicians for information about their health.
Accommodate your patients’ schedules
It’s obvious with the growing number of neighborhood and retail-based clinics that healthcare providers are taking consumer convenience seriously with convenient locations, office hours and overall accessibility. Consider offering early morning, evening or weekend appointments to accommodate busy schedules, even if you can only do so a couple days a week.
Success doesn’t happen overnight.
Setting yourself apart from your competition and retaining your patients means you’re building your practice up for long-term success. None of these strategies will create overnight results, so don’t give up! Be diligent and patient, and you’ll continue seeing those familiar patient faces in your office for years to come.