Healthcare

How to Improve Patient Retention Rate

 | 
May 19, 2022

You might not have done this lately, but take out a pen and calculate how many patients you lost in the previous year, compare that number to your active patient base, and calculate your patient attrition rate (patient departure rate).

Patient attrition is inevitable (as it is unavoidable for some patients to die or relocate from their current State). However, recording a high attrition rate often points to flaws in the internal processes of your practice or failure to implement specific strategies. 

A recent study has shown a national patient growth rate of 45% and a patient churn rate of 48%. According to these data, healthcare organizations are losing patients faster than they can retain them. 

In today's healthcare system, patients have never been more in control of how and where they receive their healthcare services. By surfing the internet on their mobile device, they can view online reviews to get a preferred hospital and spontaneously switch providers. 

Therefore, your practice needs to have a well-drafted plan to keep existing clients and optimize patient satisfaction. 

Patient Retention vs. Patient Acquisition

One common mistake healthcare practices often make prioritizing leads generation and patient acquisition over patient retention

Therefore, they tend to spend extreme attention and resources on marketing efforts while spending less time improving the existing patient experience

True that implementing effective marketing strategies plays a vital role in expanding your practice. But having a reasonable acquisition rate can never make up for low patient retention rates. But why is this so? 

First, poor retention rates are often due to patient dissatisfaction; research has shown that 70% of customer who takes their business elsewhere do so due to poor experience. This condition can rapidly develop a bad reputation for your practice when more patients keep leaving. 

Secondly, acquiring new patients takes more money, energy, and resources than keeping existing patients. 

A Harvard Business Review report shows that getting new clients is 5-25 times more expensive than maintaining existing ones. So, patient retention is a better cost-effective strategy for thriving in your practice. 

Asides from dialing down on marketing costs, one of the significant advantages of maintaining high patient retention rates is that long-term loyal patients tend to refer their family, friends, and coworkers to your practice. These referrals generate more patients without additional acquisition costs. 

15 Sure-Fire Ways to Improve Patient Retention Rates in Your Practice

What is the driving force that will keep patients coming back? You might not get a 100% retention rate, but implementing the following steps will improve it to a level where your practice can easily thrive. 

1. Provide Outstanding Care to Your Patients 

When your patients receive an A-class treatment and experience, they connect deeper with your practice. Such patients will come running back for your services whenever the need arises. 

Outstanding care requires actively using every resource and talent to deliver effective healthcare to your patients. It is imperative for all your healthcare workers who interact with the patient to provide high-quality care to the patient, even from the front office desk. 

2. Treat Patients With Respect 

Running a successful practice requires treating all patients with equal respect. Maintain a consistent culture of respect and leave no room for anyone (including patients or visitors) to feel disrespected 

3. Pay Attention to Their Needs and Concerns 

Paying attention to the needs and concerns of your patients and taking action where needed sends a good message about your practice to them, and they will always respond with loyalty. 

Even when the concerns expressed are out of your control, trivial, or sometimes none of your business, you should still patiently listen to them. It's how you build active relationships with them. 

4. Stay on Schedule

First, you need to make the scheduling process easy for your patients; then, you must do your best to adhere to it. 

It might be impossible to adhere to schedules perfectly, but you can do your best to ensure that patients do not have to wait too long.

5. Build Patient Trust 

More often, your patient's medical outcomes are at the mercy of your practice. To keep them coming back, they need to trust you. To build patient trust, you need to demonstrate confidence in your ability to help them get through whatever hurdles they may encounter.

6. Continually Educate and Inform Your Patient

Showcase your expertise by creating communication platforms where you can quickly educate and inform your patients. An excellent way to establish trust and credibility in your field is by consistently giving helpful information to your patients. 

7. Automate Processes 

Every patient would require services that make life easier for them. Automating your processes makes this possible. For instance, online scheduling can make appointment scheduling easier for your client. 

When considering that calls help schedule about 88 % of appointments while 81% of patients prefer to schedule a doctor's appointment online. You will appreciate the competitive advantage associated with automating your scheduling process.

8. Set Patient Expectations

Surpass your patient's expectations. In doing so, you are setting a new expectation for them. Today, the healthcare industry has gone beyond attending to patients' complaints and issues. You also need to impress them with your top-notch service. 

An effective strategy to set and exceed patient expectations is to be realistic when committing. Making unrealistic promises to your patient will only end up disappointing and leaving your patient dissatisfied with your service. 

9. Be Proactive 

Get ahead of potential problems before they occur. Develop adequate responses and solutions to potential issues your patients encounter while interacting with your organization. 

Implementing a proactive response to potential problems often improves patient retention rates. 

10. Establish And Use A Recall System

Using a recall system enables you to schedule your patient's next appointment. Once the current visit is over, the patient will receive a date and time.

11. Engage With Them Personally

There is nothing like relating with patients on a personal basis. Making your patients feel cared for can mean a lot to them. You can celebrate your patients on their birthday by sending a personalized text to them.

12. Give Them Something for Free

The transactional instinct inherent in humans can help out with patient retention. If you give someone something for free, they feel indebted to return the favor. If your patients get free things from you, they become naturally inclined to keep returning to your practice. 

13. Post Opt Calls 

Reaching out to your patients the day after their appointment goes a long way in showing you care and concern for them. Also, it can help you detect any issues with the respect received. Furthermore, this Is a practice most of your competition is not doing. 

14. Review Patient Feedback and Reviews  

Do you know that 94% of patients evaluate patients via online reviews? Also, 84% of patients who search for reviews actively use the reviews to decide. 

It only takes 1-6 reviews for a potential patient to decide on your practice. Therefore carefully analyzing these reviews will go a long way in helping you optimize your workflow and make strategic decisions in improving quality healthcare for your patient. 

15. Develop a Frequent Communication Calendar 

You can hardly fail with a communication calendar. It helps you keep track of patients you should stay in touch with during particular periods.

A communication calendar is a predefined sequence and events, texts, special offers, and notes that you can send to your patients using automation software. 

Using a communication calendar makes it easy to communicate with your patient without missing essential details constantly. 

Wrapping Up

Healthcare providers can improve patient retention rates using the methods above.

Patients can remain engaged in their care and treatment when healthcare professionals create a supportive environment, provide education and guidance, and communicate effectively with them.

In addition, patients’ satisfaction and engagement can improve patients' quality of care and reduce costs associated with missed appointments or readmissions. 

Healthcare providers need to remember that every patient is unique and that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to improving patient retention rates.

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