There are some practical aspects to be considered when looking at retention and growth. You need to be aware of what’s actually happening in your practice so you can plan accordingly. The first area to take an assessment of is how many patients you actually have. Check your database to identify your total number of patients, then subtract the number of patients you’ve seen only once or twice and then never again. The remaining number is closer to your actual patient total. Sometimes good patients move away and don’t let you know. Sometimes they change care providers because they are unhappy with something. We’ll come back to these patients in a bit. When was the last time you calculated your attrition rate (assuming you’ve ever doneit
Some level of attrition is always going to be part of a practice. Younger patients grow up and move to other areas. Older patients move to care facilities or pass away. Patients move to other states for work or marriages. But what about that group we mentioned before? What about patients who leave because they are unhappy with your practice for some reason? Why do they leave? Is this just a natural part of the attrition process, or can something be done to keep most of these patients?
During the course of your relationship with patients, communication can be expanded beyond simple appointment reminders (although, those are invaluable to maintaining patients as well). Allowing patients access to information through a patient portal provides a safe, HIPAA-compliant means of keeping communication open that is also convenient. Patients can access x-rays, reports, support information, or even their bill through the portal, and they can do so on any smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.
The second piece is marketing. You may feel you already do a good job with marketing, but do you market to your existing clients? Many patients feel left out of the loop in favor of attracting new patients to your business. Make sure that you market to your current clients along with new or potential clients. Offer them rewards for their longevity with you. Provide them with articles and research that will benefit them and their families. Offer them discounts or rewards when they refer new patients to your practice. When your marketing outreach includes your current patients, you demonstrate the value you place on them and give them an incentive to stay with you. Companies like Best Hospital Advisor provide an opportunity for international hospitals to increase exposure to medical travelers who seek to identify providers offering value for money and even local consumers who are shopping for care in a national context. These innovative tool have been developed by Crowd Ventures a healthcare startup which seeks to use the power of the “crowd” to empower consumers in the healthcare market, BHA has a database of 8400 + providers around the world with consumer-based reviews, information on satisfaction surveys, quality data and additional information that patients can use in making healthcare decisions.
The final step is feedback. Patients' online reviews — whether negative or positive — are out there for the world to see, and their effect on other prospective patients' provider selection process should not be underestimated. Online reviews are no different than posting something on a billboard for millions of people to see".
When you begin rebuilding your retention rates, don’t ease off. Set specific retention goals and continue to work on them year after year. It won’t take long before you are seeing very high retention numbers which will impact your bottom line. You should also see improved morale, increased efficiency, and an increased number of referrals. It’s never too early to begin, so start building your new future today!