Based on our research, retention is the most important aspect for growth across healthcare sectors.
The healthcare practitioners we talked to generally believe that there’s no benefit to putting time, money and effort into patient attraction and acquisition if they’re unable to keep the patients they’re bringing in. Building long-term relationships with clients is the lifeblood of any healthcare practice, so maximizing lifetime value is an essential investment for clinics to make. While most express their patient retention is good, with the increasing number of practices offering a range of options for patients, there is always the concern of new threats to their clinics.
The key to loyalty building
We discovered that the ultimate key to building patient loyalty is providing consistent, top-notch service, time and time again. Positive, return-worthy healthcare experiences are built on patients’ comfortability with your practice before, during and after treatment. They’re putting their health in your hands, and it’s important for them to trust that they can.
To create a patient experience that will keep them coming back, high-quality service must flow from the initial point of contact to every follow-up communication thereafter.
Tips for maintaining a high-quality patient experience
Tip #1: Thoughtful communication
Sending reminder texts or emails before appointments can make patients feel taken care of by your clinic. Also, delicately approaching cost conversations near the end of the appointment can help them feel more at ease (learn how to tackle talking cost here). The practitioners we surveyed were also sure to note the importance of proper staff training to ensure a consistently positive experience from check-in to checkout. Every staff member that patients interact with contributes to their impression of your practice, so make sure it’s a good one.
Tip #2: Show you care
Showing appreciation and gratitude for your current clients can also maximize their lifetime value and help strengthen their relationship with your clinic. Some practices we surveyed send seasonal gift baskets to patients or personalized postcards on birthdays or holidays. Others hold raffles or sweepstakes to maintain client relationships outside of appointments and build positive associations with their practice. One dental clinic we spoke to noted that some of their clients loved wearing a clinic-branded t-shirt to their appointments, while a MedSpa reported they send gift baskets of beauty products to their best customers. Dental, vision and MedSpa sectors say interest in and implementation of patient loyalty memberships is growing as an attraction and retention tactic.
Tip #3: Set expectations
Another important aspect of patient satisfaction and overall retention is the ability to properly set patient expectations. The practitioners we spoke to emphasized the importance of setting realistic patient expectations so as not to over-promise or guarantee results. Setting proper and reasonable expectations early in the consultation will set the patient’s overall experience up for success. While practices always strive to provide quality care and exceptional service, they have to take measures to avoid situations in which expectations don’t match results, especially in the MedSpa, veterinary and fertility sectors.
Can retention help growth?
The more thought and care you put into optimizing every aspect of your patient experience, the more referrals you can expect. Word-of-mouth referrals and reviews are the highest patient compliment a practice can receive, and they not only suggest strong retention rates – they are also the gold standard of acquisition tactics. If your service is strong enough to keep your current patients coming back, you’ll likely be recommended to their social network. The cycle of positive patient relationships, from acquisition to retention, starts and ends with great service. Learn more about the keys to acquisition.
Why does Ally Lending want to help with patient retention?
Many healthcare practices we surveyed who currently offer third-party financing options noted their lenders didn’t offer many tools or resources to aid in patient attraction, acquisition or retention. That’s why Ally Lending created resources like our Healthcare Marketing Playbook. Equip your team with the tools to thrive in the competitive healthcare industry - because we’re all better off with an ally.
By following ideal marketing practices, healthcare providers can leverage limited staffing resources and track the return on investment (ROI) for future planning. This strategy helps practices find the right balance between new patient acquisition and staff shortages.
Many healthcare staff in the sectors we support are tasked with marketing their clinic, despite their limited bandwidth, training or lack of interest in the topic. In fact, 67% of practitioners say they’re the ones responsible for marketing, even though it’s not in their job description.