Patient retention could easily be thought of as the essence of any successful healthcare practice. In fact, it’s of such incredible value, that the benefits to both patient and practice are easily seen. A healthcare practice that keeps its patients coming back through the door achieves increased revenue, a rise in referrals, and ultimately, the survival and long-term success of the practice as a business. On the other hand, the patient is able to benefit from a long lasting relationship with their provider as well as the many gains related to the continuity of care.
The question then quickly becomes, just how does one keep patients coming back through the door time and again? As with any good, and therefore successful practice there are a number of individual behaviours and attitudes that contribute to an overall increase in patient retention.
- Be Genuine – A patient’s belief in the value of their own health and the steps that they need to take in order to achieve that health starts with your own belief and confidence. Particularly in healthcare, it’s vital that patients believe that their practitioner genuinely cares for them and their wellbeing. When they walk out of your doors, let them know that you are just as much interested in their health and wellbeing as they are. What they believe is what they will then share with others (in other words, referrals!).
- Education – An educated patient is a valuable patient. Taking the time to educate your patients will help them to see the value of their healthcare and ensure that they continue to turn to you for guidance. A starting point for any healthcare practice should include a structured or planned educational program for their patients.
- Family – Everyone likes to feel as if they belong to something, whether it’s a family, community or circle of friends. Some practices have gotten creative with the labels they use, referring to patients as “practice members” who are participating in “wellness clubs”. The point is to make them feel special and a part of something that they’ll want to return to.
- Measure, review, and improve – Commit your entire practice to a process of daily quality improvement. Set goals, measure your progress, address problems before they get big. Find something to improve every day. By never stagnating in “the way we’ve always done it”, have the courage to shake things up, always with the ultimate goals of patient wellness, satisfaction and retention.
A successful healthcare practice sees any given patient not as a single transaction but as a lifetime partner. There’s really no secret to keeping patients coming back. It does, however, take an investment in time, attention and the willingness to implement a few simple changes.