By Luke Kervin, Co-Founder and CEO at PatientPop |
No topic is more personal or delicate than one’s health. By building a foundational and trustworthy relationship between you and your patient, your practice can increase patient retention and support the overall growth of your practice.
When patients are pleased with their experience at your practice, they will return and even refer your practice to friends and family. Thus, knowing what patients want and delivering on their expectations should be foundational to your business strategy.
Key insights from patient perspective surveys uncover patient preferences that serve as a guide to help you improve your communication with patients, maintain good relationships with them, use technology to your advantage, and ultimately improve patient retention.
Create a convenient patient experience
A sure-fire way to provide a better experience for your patients: prioritize convenience. Practices aiming to stay ahead of the convenience curve opt to use technology to streamline the patient experience and increase patient retention. Common technologies implemented in convenience-focused practices include online scheduling, digital patient registration, automated appointment confirmations and reminders, and easy text communication.
Providing a convenient patient experience also includes keeping your patients happy during their visit to your practice. For example, a welcoming staff, a comfortable waiting room, and short waiting times are likely to positively impact your patients’ satisfaction with your practice.
A clear communication strategy will strengthen your interaction with patients and promote patient retention. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to communication, so keep in mind how individual patients prefer to communicate in the various interactions they will encounter in your practice.
A 2021 PatientPop patient survey shows that two out of three patients prefer appointment reminders via text message, but 11% still prefer a phone call. When considering communication beyond reminders, there is a nearly even spread of communication preferences by patients, including 26.4% for text and 22.1% for a phone call. This tells us that while automated communication is preferred in some instances — and is certainly more efficient for your practice — patients still require a human connection for more complex communications. By offering both options, your practice can cater to all patient preferences.
Waiting times are another factor to consider when cultivating a favorable patient relationship. Of course, the shorter the better — but regardless of how long your wait times are, rapid and transparent communication is key to establishing trust and minimizing frustration.
To go one step further in promoting patient retention through communication, implement email marketing campaigns. Sending targeted and relevant information on a regular basis can help you build connections and keep your practice at top-of-mind for your patients. Emails can include tips or new health research, practice updates, and details about upcoming promotions or events.
Patient feedback system
Creating a patient feedback system will enable you to not only keep a pulse on how patients feel about your practice in real-time, but it will also allow you to make rapid adjustments when needed. However, implementing a feedback system is more than simply sending out a survey or asking for a review: it’s about finding insights that lead to actionable changes and improvements.
At least one physician and one administrative member should be responsible for the implementation and execution of the patient feedback system. Personalized approaches such as following up with patients within 24 hours and shadowing appointments can provide insights that might not ordinarily be extracted from a survey. Be mindful of your patients’ demographic and how they feel most comfortable leaving a review or taking a survey. For example, seniors might be more comfortable filling out printed surveys or leaving written reviews, whereas Gen Z will likely prefer a quick text link.
Provide virtual care options
With the increased popularity of telehealth as a means of healthcare delivery, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, more healthcare organizations want recent changes to telehealth to be made permanent. When virtual care restrictions are lifted, patients also often find themselves wanting more flexible options for seeing their providers. Practices also benefit from telehealth with time savings, a reduction in no-show rates, and added safety in a high-risk or pandemic situation.
Incorporating virtual care can help increase practice growth and patient satisfaction. When using telehealth, consider which appointment types work best for virtual visits in the long term. For example, a quick consultation may lend itself to virtual care, whereas an in-person visit would be more appropriate for an annual physical.
These three strategies — ensuring a convenient patient experience, communicating clearly, and providing ample telehealth options — can improve retention and strengthen your relationship with your patients. This will bear positive results not only for your patients, but for your entire practice, too.
About the Author
Luke oversees all aspects of strategy, operations, and product development at PatientPop. The company is the third successful business venture for Luke. Prior to co-founding PatientPop, he co-founded and was the president of ShopNation, and was also the first executive hire at StarBrand Media. Luke holds a business degree specializing in commerce and finance from the University of Toronto.