Healthcare providers have a singular daily focus: improving quality of life for patients.
However, your practice is also a business that needs a steady stream of patients through the doors. When it comes to ensuring the vitality of your business, patient loyalty plays a significant role.
Building loyalty is not a sprint, but a marathon that must be strategically planned in order to build a sustainable, faithful client base.
Although most healthcare facilities have to focus on growing and maintaining patient volume, creating a sense of loyalty is critical for the cash-based facility.
Fostering patient loyalty is the art of identifying what sets you apart from other physicians, and it begins the moment that a patient calls to make an appointment. It requires effort from the entire team and each individual staff member plays an important part.
What can you do to encourage return business?
1) 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. Online surveys are a great way to go about gathering feedback, due to their cost efficiency and convenience for patients. Use the feedback to revise your best practices. You may be surprised at how your patients view your practice.
2) Create a Brand
This sounds like a grandiose task, but creating a brand really as simple as creating a promise. Tell current and prospective patients what they can expect from your practice and be sure to deliver! Whether it is friendly, on-time service or a heightened sense of engagement, having a unique selling point will set you apart from competing providers and lay the foundation for a feel-good culture that patients will to return to and share with their networks.
3) Make House Visits
Designating time to make house visits can go an incredibly 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 for 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.
4) Set the Atmosphere
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 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 eyes of patients will keep your doors open and your patients satisfied.
6) Continue Evolving Your Best Practices
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