Developing a lasting relationship with patients is one of the most important steps in building a successful medical practice. Improving retention is closely tied to your practice’s communication skills, and leads to clients feeling cared for, safe and respected.
Patients will be loyal to a medical practice if they believe that their best interests are being catered for and their patronage is valued. Due to the highly personal aspect of the patient/ doctor relationship, and the fact that patients desire continuity of care, satisfied patients are less likely to visit other doctors, and more likely to refer friends – improving existing patient appointments.
Due to the high reliance of word of mouth in the medical industry, every patient interaction is important. If your practice delivers quality service, you will develop a free source for potential new business through your patients. Happy patients will refer new business.
It is important for practices to both acquire new patients, and retain existing patients. It is highly inefficient for a practice to focus time and resources into increasing new patient numbers, if existing patients are leaving due to practice dissatisfaction. Therefore it makes sense to focus time and resources into keeping existing patients happy.
How does a medical practice retain patients? Here are our top 10 suggestions:
· Communicate with the patient
In the medical industry one of the most important steps in improving retention is the communication skills of your doctors, nurses and reception staff – staff with interpersonal skills are better at communicating and understanding your patients needs and concerns.
Engage regularly with your existing patients to show that they are important to you. Social media is a great platform for opening up interactive communication.
Active listening is the key to effective communication. All staff should pay attention and acknowledge what your patients are communicating; this builds rapport and a trusting relationship. Patients are loyal to a medical practice when they are respected, confident in a Doctor’s skills and can trust them.
· Make it easy for your patients to get in contact with you
Returning phone calls and emails in a timely manner is imperative, patients often have pressing concerns and don’t like to be kept waiting for a lengthy periods or to feel like they are being ignored.
· Communication within the business
A system that enables doctors and staff with different permission settings to access real-time information on patients will create an environment where everybody is informed on what they need to know. This protects your patient’s confidentiality and builds a good support structure for them.
· Resolve patient complaints quickly and effectively
They always say bad news travels faster than good news. An unhappy patient will tell a number of other people about a complaint. Fairly resolving your patient’s complaints in a timely manner goes a long way to repairing the damage of their bad experience.
· Try to stay on schedule
Try to have appointments running as close to time as possible. People can be worried, uncomfortable or even in pain waiting for their appointments, so when they experience long waiting times, their overall satisfaction drops considerably.
Phoning your patients in advance to advise them if there are significant appointment delays will give them an option to arrive at the scheduled time and expect to wait, to come later, or reschedule. This shows consideration towards your patient’s time.
· Be accommodating
How quickly and easily a patient can book a necessary last minute appointment will ensure the next time a pressing medical situation arises yours will be the first practice they contact.
Confirming appointments the day before and reminding your patients of overdue visits shows organisation within your practice and care and consistency towards them. Reminders are usually appreciated and give the patient an opportunity to ask any questions they may have before their scheduled time or for the practice to communicate any preparation the patient must do before they arrive. Reminders reduce the amount of patients who do not arrive for an appointment.
· Stay informed
It is important as a medical practitioner to stay up-to-date on the latest medical developments, innovations and technology. This allows a practitioner to keep patients informed of new procedures and treatments that may be beneficial to them, keeping a practice ahead of the curve.
Make sure your patients are kept up to date about any new service offered by your practice.
· Seek regular feedback
Understand your patient’s perceptions of your practice. Regular surveys are a great way to quickly and effectively collect data that will help measure and improve your practices performance.
By paying attention your patients? needs and concerns ensures the growth and success of your practice.
Want help engaging with your patients?
Vividus offers a range of social media, email marketing, and other services that help medical practices better connect with their patients. Vividus also offers survey and research services that will increase a practice’s understanding of their patients, competition and business landscape.
Contact us today to discover new and effective ways of communicating with your patients.