11 Tips To Nurture Patient Retention
As we all know, patient retention is key to the success of any medical practice. But how do you ensure your patients’ satisfaction so they stay with your practice? We’ve put together a list of suggestions and ideas to help you keep the patients you already have while acquiring new, loyal patients in the process.
1. Every patient encounter is important. Treat them as if they are the star of the show by making them feel valued, comfortable, and understood. If you handle their experience right, you’ll see them again soon enough.
2. Create a welcoming front desk and let your inner Marie Kondo skills shine! This first impression will set the tone for their entire visit. Do you want that impression to be sloppy and cluttered or neat and organized? Remember, this could make or break their perception of your practice. You want them to walk into warm and friendly environment they’ll want to visit again.
3. Take some time to sit in your waiting room. See what it’s like to be a patient in your office. You’ll be able to come up with few ideas to make their experience more enjoyable.
Consider the following upgrades as a start:
- Provide work areas and charging stations
- Include some best-selling books in addition to magazines for reading material
- Create a visually appealing environment – add some real plants and interesting artwork
Thoughtfulness of Time
4. One of the first complaints out of a patient’s mouth is almost always how long they had to sit in a waiting room; you need to stay on schedule. Lucky for you, this can all be managed during the check-in process. Be realistic with the number of appointments you can accommodate each day and inform your patients of delays as they come up.
5. While you don’t want to keep patients waiting to be seen, you also don’t want them to feel rushed while they’re with the physician. A warm smile, sincere hand shake, and friendly welcome is a great way start an appointment rather than walking in with your head buried in a clipboard. Physicians must also listen carefully and pay attention to the patients’ needs and concerns. They should focus on cues such as eye movement, body language, tone of voice, and any displays of emotion. Most importantly, your physicians should exhibit empathy to show understanding of the patient’s feelings.
6. Survey your patient base with a third-party vendor to perfect your operations. If you proactively collect patient feedback, you’ll uncover where your practice is doing well and where there is room for improvement. Note the changes you make according to the data along the way, track your progress, and share the results with everyone in your organization. This creates transparency and gives your team a sense of camaraderie. It also gives your patients’ a voice, making them feel empowered. Keep in mind, if patients are consistently unpleased with their visits, there’s a good chance they’ll take their business elsewhere.
7. Use a reputable physician rating tool for current and potential patients to view on your website. Since we live in an age when you can check online reviews for almost any product or service, it’s best practice to manage the reviews pertaining to your organization when you can. Some of them are out of your control and display skewed results from people who may have never visited your practice at all. But, there are some review distributers that provide accurate information from verified patients about your providers and the quality of service they offer. These reviews should be tied directly to your third-party vendor data, leaving no room for error.
8. It is always best to have a real person answer the phone and to do so with enthusiasm and a smile. Not only will the person on the other end of the line feel important, others in the office (patients included) will hear and feel the warmth of the employees’ tone and demeanor. Having real people answer the phone limits the number of calls going to voicemail, which you’ll need to catch up on too. When voicemails do come in, make sure to return phone calls in a timely manner. Remember how frustrating it is to not get a call back? Let your patients know you care by getting back to them as soon as you can.
9. Schedule follow-up appointments at the end of each visit when possible and set-up reminders so patients don’t forget. This shows the patient they’re valued by your practice by taking the hassle off of them entirely.
10. Go the extra mile to provide exceptional customer service and engage all employees in this effort. Five-star service should be the norm throughout the entire practice, and it doesn’t take much effort to achieve it when done right. A few examples include holding the door for patients as they come in or go out, offering them a bottle of water or a nutritious snack, and politely answering any questions they may have instead of seeming annoyed.
Five-star service is the highest level of service. True five-star service is built into the culture of a company and is evident in every point of contact and engagement that company has with its customers. Five-star is about exceeding customer expectations, time and time again. – Jim Saxton, SE Healthcare Board Member
11. Issues are inevitable and there’s no way to avoid them. When they do arise, they need to be taken seriously because the patient deserves an appropriate explanation and answer. It should always start with a sincere apology and end with the right solution. This process is another way to strengthen the relationship between your practice and your patients.
No one likes a breakup, especially a costly one. Keep your patients happy and minimize the chance of them finding someone new by following these suggestions.