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Patient retention is one of the most cost-effective approaches to growing your medical practice.

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Creating a Patient Retention Strategy that Drives You Referrals and Loyal Patients

One of the best ways to grow your practice is to get more loyal patients. Patient retention is one of the most cost-effective approaches to growing your medical practice.  Long-term patients are more likely to continue to help you grow your practice by leaving online reviews and bringing you referrals. Keep reading to learn patient retention strategies that can help your practice.

Importance of First Impressions

First impressions are critical in any situation, particularly when caring for a patient's well-being. Historically, many medical providers had an overemphasis on treating conditions but little focus on the patient as an individual. While bedside manner has improved for many medical practices, most patients can still point to a negative patient experience that they have had with a health care provider.

During your first new patient appointment, it is important to give them a warm greeting and to use the patient's name. Make sure you have reviewed their medical charts, and their chief complaint and have everything you need to proceed with your initial meeting. This approach shows patients that you are competent and empathetic. Patients will remember your personalized touch, which will serve as a foundation for building patient loyalty.

Medical Specialties that Rely on Patient Retention

While all types of specialties can certainly benefit from patient retention, some specialties rely on it more. Let's take a closer look at which specialties may need to emphasize patient retention strategy.

Family Medicine

Family medicine relies heavily on patient loyalty because you are often a central figure in the community where you live and work. Family practice doctors often treat family members from infancy through routine senior care throughout their lives. This allows you to build a personalized relationship beyond your office doors. One of the main benefits of this approach is that your patients will frequently come to see you as an extension of their family, and you'll probably view them in the same way. Of course, being this close to families means that you can see them through many phases of life. Handling each visit with care and compassion can continue to build trust and rapport between you and the individual, while a single negative patient experience can turn them away.

Dermatology

Dermatology is another specialty that relies on customer loyalty. Many skin issues don't require extensive office visits or treatments, but proper treatment for these issues will keep them coming back when something else happens.

Other skin problems can take a lifetime to treat and manage. Issues like rosacea, psoriasis, actinic keratosis, or in some cases, acne can also damage self-image. This is why dermatologists wind up forming lifelong relationships with their patients, and patient retention can make or break the welfare of a practice.

Ophthalmology

Ophthalmology is another practice that can rely heavily on patient retention. Certain eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and others call for a long and trustworthy relationship between patients and their doctors.

Regardless of your practice, building long-term relationships with patients and maintaining patient retention can be the deciding factor in keeping a practice open and solvent.

Strategies that Maintain Patient Retention

There are several approaches that medical facilities and healthcare practices take to ensure that they get the best patient retention rates possible.

In-Person Retention Strategies

Train Your Staff

Recognizing each point of contact as the potential to win or lose a patient can be crucial to the success of a practice. This starts with friendly front desk staff who treat patients with respect while paying attention to their needs and concerns.

Be Considerate

When a doctor treats a patient in person, they should take advantage of their ability to observe potential issues that the patient may not have noticed or expressed. Diligent attention to each patient can help medical professionals anticipate problems and obstacles. A watchful eye can be the difference between early detection and intervention and a delayed diagnosis in many cases.

Minimize Wait Time

One of the most common issues that patients and doctors have is their limited time to spend with each patient. Many doctors open their practice to eliminate commercial operations' scheduling issues placed on them. It is important to consider how much time patients may want to spend with you and can help you avoid rushing them out of the office or being late to see your next patient. Allow yourself to spend the extra time with your patients, and you'll be sure to keep them coming back year after year.

Schedule the Next Appointment

Discuss scheduling your patient's next appointment before leaving the office. Eliminating the steps needed to schedule an appointment can be critical to ensuring your patients maintain better health and that your practice routinely sees patients.

Digital Retention Strategies

While in-person can sometimes be more straightforward, digital strategies have the advantage of building your patient base even when they aren't in the office. There are various digital strategies that you can consider to maintain and grow the number of people seeking your help.

Telehealth

One of the most popular methods of digital patient retention is offering new services or automation like telehealth appointments. Especially following COVID-19, patients are more apt to utilize technology to complete their appointments. In addition to scheduling patients online, it helps to reduce their travel time and costs of coming to your office.

If you already have patients utilizing telehealth services, you may consider adding more lines of remote patient services. These include monitoring patient vitals, such as blood pressure, pulse, heart rhythms, weight, blood sugar, and activity levels.

Leverage Marketing

In addition to providing online patient care, other digital strategies can be adding a weekly, monthly, or quarterly newsletter to boost patient engagement. While newsletters can be beneficial to promoting new staff or services that your practice has started to offer, they can also be a great opportunity to simply remind patients of upcoming services pertinent to your community. This can include routine immunizations, allergy treatments, seasonal preparation, or the end of a calendar year (and the time to use their benefits).

Other strategies that a doctor can utilize involve using technology to personalize patient interactions. Some examples would be emails, phone calls, social media outreach, and text messaging to avoid patients missing appointments by sending out digital appointment reminders for an upcoming visit.

Follow-up Retention Strategies

Certain follow-up strategies to help you retain your patients can start with listening to what your patients have to say because this will help them feel like an individual who matters instead of just another medical file. You can also schedule routine surveys that follow a patient appointment. Sometimes one of the best ways to determine what you can do better for a patient is to ask them. Once you've gathered that information, follow up and let them know you heard them and cared enough to consider their needs beyond the visit.

Another way to follow up is to remind patients when routine checkups or upcoming or overdue visits. You can also allow patients to confirm an appointment 24 hours before they are scheduled to arrive.  

Tracking Your Success of Patient Retention Strategies

One of the best ways to track your patients is by leveraging patient feedback surveys. Prevention is generally the best approach to avoid losing a patient. It's important to track patient feedback to help you optimize what’s not working.

Another method of tracking the success of your patient retention strategies is to develop a frequent communication calendar. This calendar would allow you to review all of the doctor and staff's communication activities with your patients. This could involve setting up communication goals that are not only with your staff but also with your patients.

Other important metrics to track are return rate, churn rate, and patient satisfaction through the forms of NPS scores or the survey method mentioned above.

Improve Patient Retention and Grow Your Practice

If you are a doctor, owner, or manager of medical practice and would like to increase patient satisfaction while increasing revenue, DearDoc can help drive the growth you need. Our time-tested strategies will help you retain your patients. Our innovative technologies help you communicate with patients easier to deliver a better patient experience. Book a quick call to learn more:

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