Patient Retention Strategies That Attract Patients Like Magnets

Ways Healthcare Practices Can Increase Patient Retention
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According to one recent study, approximately 43% of Millennials say that they are “likely” to switch healthcare providers in the next few years. The same is true of 44% of those who make up Generation X, and even 20% of the coveted Baby Boomer generation. 

Patient churn is a real pain point for small healthcare providers in particular. While it’s true that sometimes people simply need a “quick fix” and will soon be gone, more often than not this isn’t the case. People are looking for far more from their healthcare providers than just a quick “solution to what ails them.” 

  • They want a true experience in every sense of the term. 
  • They want to know that their providers care about their health every bit as much as they do. 
  • They want to feel like theirs is the most important appointment you have on the schedule that day, even if you both intellectually know that isn’t necessarily true. 

Getting to that point is a part of why patient retention strategies are critical to your long-term success in healthcare. It’s how you establish a rock-solid foundation of satisfied patients that you can then build from moving forward. 

With that foundation in place, you won’t have to worry about how to get more patients. You’ll naturally begin attracting new patients like a magnet in more ways than one. 

Patient Retention and Its Importance

In an over-arching sense, one of the main reasons why patient retention is so important in healthcare is because it provides some much-needed stability for your practice. 

The more patients you can keep coming in the door reliably, the steadier your income stream is. Patients have a better experience, which increases loyalty, which turns to repeat business. That can only help your practice from a financial point of view. 

Equally important is the idea that finding new patients is expensive. According to one recent study, the average cost of a lost patient in healthcare is roughly $243. That’s because not only are you out the immediate revenue boost that you would have otherwise gotten, but you also have to pay to replace them. That translates to increased marketing costs. 

Understanding Patient Turnover: Why Patients Leave

The number one reason why patients leave a practice has to do with an overall poor experience after an appointment. Maybe they feel like the visit was rushed, or that you weren’t truly understanding what outcome they were trying to achieve. Regardless, you’re not giving them something they value, so they’re prepared to look elsewhere to find it. 

Additional reasons why patients leave a practice include but are certainly not limited to ones like: 

  • An inconvenient experience, especially on the technology side. They want the ease that comes with telehealth when it’s available or making appointments online, but you just aren’t giving it to them. 
  • Slow experiences. If they have a question, you may provide an answer – but you take far too long to give it to them. If they have a request, they may not feel like they’re getting the immediate service they want. 
  • Difficulties proactively managing their own healthcare experience. There’s a reason why patient portals have become so popular over the last few years. They help put as much control over someone’s healthcare journey as possible back in their hands where it belongs. 

Strategies to Improve  Patient Retention

Strategies to Improve Patient Retention

One of the best ways to improve patient retention for your practice involves soliciting (and embracing) patient feedback. Your patients will be more than happy to tell you what you’re doing correctly and, more importantly, what you’re not. Start listening to them. 

Solicit feedback from all your patients and see if any trends or patterns emerge. Prioritize those criticisms and address what you can, when you can. 

Another great way to improve patient retention involves building patient trust whenever possible. Don’t forget that as a healthcare professional, someone’s life is literally in your hands. They’re not just going to take your word for it that you can do what you say you can. 

They want to see it. They want to believe it. They want to be reassured when they walk into your office, not uneasy. Build patient trust on a daily basis and qualities like patient loyalty and retention will follow. 

Even something as simple as interacting between visits goes a long way towards that end. Don’t just wait for someone to come to you with a “problem” so that you can prove your value and address it. Reach out to people and make sure they’re okay. See if they need any help. You’d be surprised by how much trust this can build. 

Why  Patient Retention  Strategies  Are Important

Another recent study revealed that when you lose just a single patient to another provider, your practice could lose as much as $200,000 over its lifetime. 

Take a look at your current patient churn rate and see if you can determine approximately how many people you lose to competitors in a year. Then, think about how many more years you want to remain in operation before you plan on retiring. 

Multiply the number of lost patients by $200,000 and see if you’re comfortable losing that amount of money over however many years your practice has left. In the vast majority of all situations, you won’t be. 

That’s the most straightforward explanation of why patient retention strategies are important. This is to say nothing of how crucial it is to remain involved in someone’s health journey for as long as possible. This enables you to offer them the personalized level of care they need to remain healthy for years to come. 

Great Patient Engagement  Increases Patient Retention

To look at things from another perspective, when you’re talking about patient retention what you’re really talking about is patient engagement. 

When an employee starts to become disengaged at their job, what happens? They look for a new job. This same basic concept is true in the world of healthcare, too. 

Consider the fact that: 

  • 80% of patients say that they prefer digital communications channels. 
  • 92% of patients expect their healthcare providers to send them personalized reminders and messages via those channels. 
  • Patients that have just a single negative experience are literally three times more likely to switch healthcare providers. 

Does your practice still insist on making appointment reminders and handling all essential communications over the phone? People overwhelmingly say that they don’t want that. 

By not listening to them, you’re creating an experience they can’t help but disengage from. This puts them at a major risk of heading elsewhere. 

Keep in mind that this is just one example of a potential jumping off point for someone. The more engaging you are, the better your patient retention numbers will be. It really is as simple as that. 

How to Measure Patient Retention

To properly calculate your current patient retention rate, you need to know three pieces of information: 

  • The number of patients you have at the start of the period you’re looking at. 
  • The number of patients you have at the end of the period you’re looking at. 
  • The number of new patients you gained during that time. 

Take the number of patients you had at the end of the period and subtract from it the number of new patients you gained. Divide that result by the number of patients you had at the start of the period. 

Multiply the result by 100 and what you’re left with is a percentage that represents your current retention rate. Over time as your efforts improve, this number should always go up. 

Patient Retention Mistakes That You Should Avoid

Patient Retention Mistakes You Should Avoid

Having said all of that, no discussion of patient retention solutions would be complete without touching on the mistakes you might be making that could put off potential patients entirely. To embrace how to increase patients in your clinic, avoid pitfalls like the following: 

  • Mistake #1: Failing to re-book patients BEFORE they leave your office. What’s the fastest way to get someone to come back for another appointment? Making it easy to schedule that follow-up while they’re still physically in your office. Failing to do so is a major missed opportunity. 
  • Mistake #2: Not following up with patients after an appointment. Again, do not make the mistake of only communicating with patients during official in-office visits. Reach out and see how they’re doing. Ask if they have any questions. See if there’s anything you can do. This will build a tremendous amount of loyalty. 
  • Mistake #3: Failing to respond to negative reviews/criticism. Did one of your patients leave you a negative review on a site like Yelp? Don’t underestimate the amount of damage that could do in the eyes of potential patients who are still looking for a provider. Address that concern publicly and reach out to someone directly to understand what happened, how you can make it right, and how to prevent it from happening again. 
  • Mistake #4: Not having a larger strategy in place with an eye towards patient retention. You can’t improve what you’re not measuring and if you’re not measuring metrics like patient retention, you have no idea if what you’re doing is effective. Arm yourself with as much actionable data as possible and put together a true strategy to increase engagement and retain patients. Understand which of your efforts work and which ones don’t. Get rid of that which doesn’t and double down on what works whenever you have the opportunity to do so. 

Overall, just remember that patient loyalty isn’t a given. It is earned. But once you’ve earned it, you don’t have it forever. It’s inherently fragile and if your medical practice starts to make mistakes like these, or if you do anything that runs contrary to what people are looking for, you’ll never be able to fully understand how to get more patients. 

Tools to Help Increase Patient Retention

Thankfully, increasing patient retention isn’t something that you have to do entirely on your own. While it’s true that a lot of these strategies do require you to take a hands-on approach, technology has advanced to the point where there is much that can be done with the right EHR solution by your side. 

PrognoCIS, for example, gives you a bird’s eye view of how your practice is doing to the point where much of the hard work in terms of patient retention can be handled by implementing some basic functionality. 

Some of the most prominent tools that you can use to help increase patient retention include: 

  • Appointment Reminders. Studies have shown that using proactive, convenient appointment reminders helps dramatically reduce late arrivals and no-show appointments. It doesn’t matter why someone missed their appointment – it’s still a negative against the quality of the experience you offer them. One study indicated that no-shows cost the healthcare industry a combined $150 billion (!) per year.
  • ProCheckIn. This totally secure “online patient check-in portal” acts as a kind of digital kiosk for your patients. It lets you know exactly when they arrive in a way that keeps things moving, which eliminates the long wait times that are one of the major reasons why they disengage in the first place. 
  • Patient Portals. PrognoCIS’ patient portal creates a totally secure, digital communication channel that connects you with your patient anywhere, at any time, and from virtually every device. If one of the major reasons for patient churn is slow or ineffective communication, this is a viable way to solve it.
  • Online Payment. The easier you make it for people to pay their bill after an appointment, the more likely they are to do so. Not only that, but they’ll pay so in a timely manner, as well. This keeps the revenue flowing, which keeps your practice on solid financial ground. 

Retaining Patients Offers Great ROI

Again, the number one reason to retain patients is because it lets you do your part to improve their health over time. Nothing is more important than their health and well-being. 

Having said that, you are still a business owner – which means that return on investment is something you need to concern yourself with. 

Therefore, it’s important to note that the Harvard Business Review revealed that improving retention rate by as little as 5% can literally increase your profits by between 25% and 95%. 

Nobody is saying that you became a healthcare professional to make money. But as a healthcare professional, remaining profitable is something you need to concern yourself with. Retaining patients is one of the easiest ways to tackle that challenge, which means it must become and remain a priority – full stop. 

PrognoCIS: Your Partner in Patient Retention

At Bizmatics, Inc., we understand just how important patient retention is to your long-term success as a healthcare organization. These days, people are taking a more active interest than their health than ever. They don’t just want short-term fixes. 

They want long-term solutions to live the best life that they can. If they don’t think your practice can provide that for them, they won’t hesitate to look elsewhere. That is something we do not want to see happen. 

That’s why PrognoCIS has been designed from the top down with practices like yours in mind. It helps you create the leanest, most efficient practice possible. 

It does this in the name of freeing up more hours in a day so that you can improve the quality of the patient experience, which is precisely what keeps people coming back for more. 

It’s also what helps you understand how to get more patients in the most efficient way possible. One satisfied patient spreads the word, quickly turning into two, then four, then ten, and beyond. That’s how you continue to grow and thrive and that’s what we want to help you accomplish. 

To find outwore information about the types of patient retention strategies in healthcare that you can use to thrive, or to get answers to any other questions that you might have, please don’t delay - contact us today. 

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