Patient retention is one of the most important aspects of running a healthcare facility. This concept refers to continuous patient engagement, so they return to you in the future. Healthcare providers should strive to use high-quality patient retention strategies. In turn, more patients will return for future appointments, and your facility’s quality will increase.
Read on for 12 ways how healthcare providers can improve patient retention.
1. Provide quality services
First, ensure your office provides high-quality services to patients throughout the entirety of their experience. Every encounter counts, from scheduling appointments over the phone to patients speaking with nurses and doctors. When you interact with patients, give them your highest quality services for every minute you have together.
Here are some strategies for giving top-notch services:
- Offer genuine advice for patient conditions
- Actively listen to patient concerns
- Upgrade the waiting room and medical supplies
- Remember critical information about families and build rapport
- Offer a variety of treatment options where possible
- Provide full explanations of treatment options and the advantages and disadvantages of each
By providing these quality services, your practice’s patient retention should improve greatly.
2. Treat patients with kindness and respect
An essential strategy for patient retention in medical practice is being kind and understanding. Successful practices have constant cultures of respect from the moment a patient walks through the door. Everyone is treated with kindness and never made to feel that they’re intruding or unwanted. The more respected a patient feels, the more likely they will return for your services.
Actions like these show kindness and respect:
- Greeting patients with smiles
- Showing interest in their wellbeing
- Giving patients your full attention
- Answering phone calls and returning messages promptly
- Displaying concern and support, especially during tough times
These actions are essential to showing patients that you care about them, which will encourage their loyalty to your practice.
3. Set your patients’ expectations
You can also retain patients by setting their expectations. Patients should know what to expect from you when they schedule an appointment, and you should meet these expectations each time. Meeting expectations builds trust between you and your patients. Instead of making empty promises you can’t fulfill, you show them you are dependable and trustworthy.
Providers should also use honesty in every aspect of care. Your patients deserve to know the truth, and you should give it to them. Whether you’re speaking about a diagnosis or a prescription medication, use honesty at all times.
One way to set patient expectations is with creative technology solutions. You can use technology like messaging systems to clarify what is necessary from the patient, from registration to payment.
For example, you could use technology for:
- Automating patient registration and payments
- Texting to confirm appointment details and owed payments
- Online payment options
With options like these, the patient knows exactly what to expect for every step of their healthcare appointments.
4. Educate your patients
Healthcare is full of terminology and references that might be unfamiliar to patients. From insurance terms to medical procedures to prescription drugs, all of these references can become overwhelming. If patients get overwhelmed, they might refrain from medical help altogether.
It’s your job to make your office a welcoming and informative space. Provide your patients with an abundance of information — from explanations about appointment times to insurance coverage. You could provide handouts or pamphlets with additional information, while also hanging essential explanations on your walls. Be sure to display office information, such as working hours, on your walls and doors.
5. Consider your office hours
Another way to improve patient retention is by rethinking office hours. Your patients come from a variety of backgrounds and schedules, and it’s important to provide them with convenient appointment availability. If patients don’t have time to use your services, they are unlikely to return.
If you have the capacity, consider extending your office hours. Offering longer morning or evening hours could allow more patients to access care. You could ask patients about a particular time that suits them and try to accommodate it as best as you can. Either way, a change in office hours shows you value your patients’ time.
6. Make patient payments simple
Streamlining your payment processes can assist greatly with patient retention. If you don’t have digital payment options available, consider upgrading to simpler versions of patient payments. You could add a variety of options that make it easier for patients to access payment.
Consider adding options like:
- Text-to-pay or mobile payments
- Long-term financing
- Announcements about upcoming bills
- Automatic payment methods
The simpler you make payments, the easier your patients’ overall experience will be. In turn, they’ll have more satisfaction at your practice and will likely return for more appointments.
7. Return phone calls
Your patients deserve responses to questions about medications, appointment availability, and other healthcare information. Front desk attendants and others should answer the phone as often as possible and return calls quickly. If a new patient calls you to set up an appointment but receives no answer, it reflects poorly on your practice.
Consistent communication helps show patients you want their services. To improve your responses, try designating phone calls as one of the main responsibilities for a few select people per department. That way, these workers can dedicate time to answering the phones each day and improve your response rate.
8. Have an updated website
Most services have online capabilities in addition to in-person access. It’s crucial to update your website and make it accessible for all patients. You could include information about appointment availability, a frequently asked question page, and other crucial answers for patients to find. Allowing patients to schedule their own appointments on your website allows patient flexibility, while showing them your practice embraces current technology.
A high-quality site displays you as trustworthy and detailed. Plus, the more information patients can find online, the fewer questions they will have in person. You could also use website traffic to collect valuable data and analytics to calculate patient retention rates.
9. Stay on schedule
No one enjoys long waits in the waiting room. It puts patients behind schedule for the remainder of the day and decreases their overall enjoyment. You should strive to stay as close to schedule as possible. In doing so, you honor patients’ time and energy.
For example, when a patient makes an appointment at 9:30 AM, they deserve to be seen at that time and no later. Make it a point to meet with patients on time, and they will appreciate your punctuality.
10. Confirm appointments in advance
Another strategy for patient retention is appointment confirmations. Try sending brief appointment reminders one or more days before appointments. With appointment confirmations, you can:
- Reduce the chances of last-minute cancellations
- Show your patients you value their time
- Improve office scheduling and efficiency
This can help both you and the patient stay organized so that the schedule runs more smoothly for all parties involved.
11. Send reminders to schedule overdue appointments
One of the easiest ways to lose patrons is when they simply forget to schedule new appointments. Once patients forget one appointment, it could turn into two, three, and more. To keep patients interested in your services, send automated messages about appointments. These will help patients remember necessary appointments, even if they forget initially.
Extra reminders also show patients you value their patronage and want to see them return. The reminders could have a huge impact on overall retention rates.
12. Send personalized cards
Try sending customized cards to your patients. Whether sending holiday greeting cards or personalized appointment follow-ups, these messages show you care and think about them beyond their scheduled appointment time. Even this small gesture shows great appreciation and could cause patients to renew their services.