Healthcare providers have one daily focus: Improving the quality of life for patients through health. But when it comes to ensuring the vitality of the business aspect of the practice, others factors are at play. Patient loyalty is not a sprint but rather a marathon that must be strategically ran in order to build long-lasting, faithful business.
Fostering patient loyalty is the art of identifying what sets you apart from other physicians and using it to keep a steady flow of patrons coming in and out of your door. It takes more than just the physician, the entire office plays a part in creating patient loyalty. Although most healthcare facilities have to put in work to maintain their patient volume, creating a sense of loyalty is even direr for the cash-based facility.
What can you do to encourage return business?
Find out what’s already working
One of the best steps a physician can take in identifying why patients return to his or her practice is creating a survey that encourages feedback. Assessing the level of satisfaction patients feel toward your services will allow you to see what’s working and what needs improvement. Use the feedback to enhance best practices. You may be surprised at how your patients view your practice.
Create a brand
This sounds like a grandiose task but look at the concept of creating a brand as simply creating a promise. Tell current and prospective patients what they can expect from your practice and be sure to deliver on it. Whether it is friendly, on-time service or a heightened sense of engagement, having a unique selling point will help set you apart from competing providers and lay the foundation for creating a culture that patients can rely on.
Make house visits
Designating time to make house visits can go an extremely long way in demonstrating your commitment to seeing patients succeed. Think of it as the feeling one gets when receiving a hand-written letter. In a time when technology is so prevalent, getting a letter in the mail can make a person feel that someone went the extra mile and took extra time out of their day to personally write a message to them. This rings true for the home visit as well. Is a patient no longer able to physically come to the office? Are they backsliding on their health regimen? Make a house visit and show how committed you are to their health.
Set the atmosphere
Have you ever opted to go to a more expensive grocery store, simply because the experience was better shopping at that particular store? Or maybe you’ve gone to a further Chinese restaurant just because the people are nicer than the ones right up the street from you. When it comes to choosing a healthcare provider, patients can, and often do, take the same approach. Create an atmosphere people want to be a part of. From the front office administrator that greets patients when they arrive to the beverage station that offers water or tea to the follow up email thanking them for visiting the office, patients want to feel welcomed and appreciated.
It’s not often that a patient gets the opportunity to hear from their provider outside of the exam room. It takes commitment (a doctor’s day is often packed) but setting aside a small amount of time in your day to personally reach out to patients who have maybe skipped out on appointments or could use a little extra attention to their health is a great way to establish loyalty. Building a positive relationship that encourages personal connection to the health provider makes patients feel like they have a true partner in their healthcare. Sometimes, a voicemail message from the office administrator just doesn’t cut it.
Every day, we are faced with options. The options we choose are based on our preferences and those preferences come from our experiences. The success of your practice is tied to the care experience you provide to clients. It may take a little extra effort but making small pushes to enhance your practice in the eye of the patient will keep your doors open and your patients satisfied.