You have a singular daily focus: Improving quality of life for patients.
Of course, your practice is also a business that needs to remain profitable. To be profitable, you need a steady stream of patients through the doors. Since many IM and FM practitioners run on cash-based models (vs. insurance reimbursements), patient loyalty and referrals are critical factors in creating a sustainable client base that grows over time.
What’s the best way to spark practice growth organically, without a dedicated marketing budget?
Identify what sets you apart from other physicians and practices, then fully ingrain and promote these unique attributes. Sure, doing so may require a bit of extra effort from individual staff members, but new habits can be made quickly, and the rewards are well worth it.
Use these five tips to get the loyalty ball rolling in your practice…
1) It all starts with the patient experience, which typically begins with a phone call.
The person who answers the phone can make or break a new patient relationship, so they must be patient, caring and kind.
Do you have a person in this role? If so, take a look at comments on patient surveys and online review sites. Also consider any staff member conflicts involving the person. If less-than-positive comments prevail, retraining may be a fine solution, but please feel comfortable reassigning anyone who lacks positive communication skills. How the person on the phone represents your practice—in every interaction—is a key component of patient retention and referrals.
Do you rely on voicemail or a basic answering service? If so, check out our virtual front office staffing solution, P2P Connect. We can help provide excellent customer service to current and prospective patients in ways that go above-and-beyond typical answering services. Use it all day or only during specific hours of the day when you need extra coverage–we make it easy! Click here to learn more.
2) Find Out What’s Already Working
If you haven’t already, consider implementing patient surveys to find out why people come back—and why they don’t. Assessing the level of satisfaction patients feel toward your services will allow you to see what’s working and what needs improvement. Online surveys are a great way to go about gathering feedback, due to their cost efficiency and convenience for patients. Send them within 48 hours, then use the feedback to revise your best practices. You may be surprised at how your patients view your practice.
3) Create a Brand
This sounds like a grandiose task, but creating a brand is as simple as creating a promise. Tell current and prospective patients what they can expect from your practice and deliver! Whether it is friendly, on-time service, unique offerings or a heightened sense of engagement and support, find a way to set yourself apart from competing providers and lay the foundation for a feel-good culture that patients will to return to and share with their friends and family.
Related: Content Marketing: The Key to Integrative Practice Growth
4) Set the Atmosphere
Patients are not just patients… they’re also customers. 55% of people are willing to pay more for better service. 47% say that how quickly a business responds to an inquiry is a vital element in the overall customer experience.
Have you ever opted to go to a more expensive grocery store, simply because the experience was better? Or maybe you’ve gone to an out-of-the-way restaurant just because the people are nicer than the spot just up the street. When it comes to choosing a healthcare provider, patients can—and often do—take the same approach. Patients will remember the experience and how you made them feel, so create an atmosphere that leaves a lasting impression. From the front office administrator who greets patients when they arrive to the beverage station to the follow up email thanking them for visiting the office, patients want to feel welcomed, appreciated and truly cared for.
5) Get Personal
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 trusted partner. A voicemail message from the office administrator doesn’t compare to your personal attention.
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 eyes of patients will keep your doors open and your patients satisfied.