Most marketers make the error of disregarding current patients in favor of acquiring new ones. While attracting new patients is important for expanding your clinical practice, taking care of your current patients’ needs can be equally important. Effective patient retention strategies are frequently quite profitable for medical practices.
Although it would be great if every patient stayed with your office for years, the reality is that many only come for one or two appointments before disappearing. No matter what your practice’s expertise or location, you must expand and build your patient base if you want to succeed. Long-term prosperity depends on repeat business.
The benefits of patient retention are rather simple to comprehend. Similar to a typical firm, acquiring existing clients is simpler and less expensive than finding new ones. Additionally, having devoted clients enhances your reputation. Even though they aren’t the cornerstone of medical marketing as they once were, phrase recommendations are still crucial to your success.
Significance of Retaining Patients
1. Greater Income
More trusted than new patients, satisfied patients have a close relationship with your healthcare business. A regular or devoted patient is more inclined to spend more per appointment than a new client who just strolled into your office. This is so because as trust develops with each visit, the patient is more likely to take your advice and services. Thanks to the enhanced trust, you will be able to upsell and cross-sell products or services. This will help you boost revenue without putting too much effort into attracting new patients.
Despite your best efforts, potential patients will be more swayed by recommendations from reliable family and friends than by a strong internet and social media visibility for your healthcare brand. The fastest, cheapest, and best healthcare marketing tool is word-of-mouth. It engages potential customers and helps raise brand awareness. Word-of-mouth marketing relies heavily on loyal customers. They are enticing individuals to think about your services when they promote your company and offer complimentary remarks.
Serving long-term patients is simpler and more lucrative. This is because familiarity with a practice’s goods and services enables them to resolve most of their problems alone or by consulting an online knowledge base or FAQ. Additionally, long-term patients might assist in solving the issues of other patients. Therefore, it is necessary to build an online platform where your patients may discuss their experiences, issues, and solutions. Then, you can slowly add more patients to that neighborhood. You might even consider awarding patients loyalty points to resolve other problems effectively.
3. Recurring Business
Happy and devoted patients are far more likely to use your medical services again and pay for them. A survey found that returning customers are 50% more likely than new ones to explore new services. The question now arises about how you will entice current patients to visit your office. Always communicate with patients using their preferred mode or channel of contact. Inform your patients that you are available to help them with their issues. Because most people prefer to stop visiting medical clinics after just one negative experience, teach your staff to always strive to improve patient experiences and services.
4. Enhanced Brand Perception
Your brand image is how other people view your products and services. A worse brand image can contribute to a healthcare practice’s failure, even though it will help you gain patients, boost profitability, cut costs, and attract collaborations. One of your most effective marketing tools is your medical practice’s brand image, which needs to let patients know what to anticipate from you. Building a brand image is a difficult, expensive, and time-consuming process. This is so because corporate identity, customer loyalty, and patient satisfaction are interrelated. Happy customers are more likely to be brand loyal, and brand-loyal customers are much more inclined to recommend your business to others.
5. Prediction Accuracy
A medical practice’s planning and management depend heavily on forecasting. It can assist you in getting a general idea of future costs and earnings. You can calculate expenses, growth rates, discounts, and contingency plans with a precise prediction. Planning for financial investments and cooperation opportunities will be challenging without a precise prediction. But how can long-term patients improve the accuracy of forecasts? Feedback from devoted patients can help you develop your USP as a doctor by revealing useful data about the typical patient volume, prices for goods and services, and more. As a result, you can produce a more accurate prognosis with more devoted patients.
6. Distinguishing Oneself From Rivals
Setting your products apart from those of other companies is difficult in today’s competitive marketplace. Your competition might eliminate your quality products tomorrow. This is where your patients’ strong brand can help, as it will affect their purchasing decisions. Your products will be more well-liked and lucrative among prospects and customers if your rivals offer comparable goods but you have higher client loyalty.
7. Truthful Assessment
Research shows that about 70% of companies that provide exceptional customer service employ consumer feedback. Similarly, devoted customers will offer an honest assessment of your company and offerings. Your clients’ opinions can assist you in launching new services, gauging customer satisfaction and experience, retaining customers, and lowering attrition rates.
Breakdown of Acquisition, Attrition, and Retention.
In the financial sphere of the healthcare sector, those three words might not appear as crucial as phrases like “key performance indicators.” However, when medical offices concentrate on these areas, they frequently maintain a high level of incoming money and increase patient satisfaction.
They understand the concept of the cost of acquiring a customer (CAC). The business sector refers to the entire amount organizations spend to onboard a new client, which may be helpful first. The CAC determines all customer acquisition costs by the number of fresh clients gained during a predetermined period.
Another important concept is cost of patient acquisition(CPA) or patient acquisition cost (PAC) in the healthcare industry. It refers to the total marketing expenses needed to find and “sell” each patient. It could be expensive to recruit new patients because it typically costs a physician to practice 5 to 8 times more than to retain an existing patient.
Patients can leave a doctor’s office for several reasons, such as:
- Access to the following appointment is delayed
- Slow or absent responses to queries or issues
- Having a bad encounter with a medical professional and staff
- Poor communication and lengthy phone wait times
Dissatisfaction with the length of time spent in the exam room is another important factor in why some patients choose not to visit a doctor again. Even though patient education promotes better adherence, research reveals that primary care physicians only devote one minute to secondary patient problems after resolving the original complaint.
Patient Acquisition vs. Patient Retention
Which is more efficient, patient enrollment or retention? When considering strategic alternatives to expand their healthcare practices is a difficult matter in the thoughts of many practitioners. However, you may anticipate that retention initiatives always receive the biggest chunk of the marketing budget in most firms. Statistics show that obtaining a new client costs five times more than keeping an existing one.
Most businesses place more emphasis on customer acquisition than retention. However, patient acquisitions and retention must be given equal importance, considering how new and current patients can assist a healthcare firm in development. However, generally speaking, healthcare marketing tactics that emphasize building a loyal customer base outperform acquisition-focused initiatives in terms of return on investment.
Every aspect of the modern world has evolved, including the concepts for sales and marketing. With forecast market insights now a reality, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data science has made it much simpler to customize sales and interactions hence getting the most out of a new customer. With AI-driven personalization, customer spending might increase up to 500%.
To decide whether to recruit a client or prioritize maintaining your current patient base, you must determine a customer’s lifetime value (CVL). To determine the opportunity associated costs, compare the CLV of the potential patient to the return on Investment(ROI) of the current patient. In terms of how long they will stay with your practice, their expectations, etc., new patients bring several unknowns that your existing clients will already be aware of. When unable to estimate the future worth of a new customer, healthcare practitioners are easily prone to making this error.
Prioritize Improving Patient Retention
Numerous effective business practices have been discussed in those advantages, including repeat business, profitability, reduced costs, improved brand recognition, and many more. Focusing on patient retention naturally results in each of these advantages.
There are several ways to invest in patient retention, including rewards and loyalty programs, promotions, deals, cutting-edge CRM systems, and even employee incentives.
If you have a retention strategy, it is your responsibility to recall patients rather than waiting for them to remember you. Not neglecting your present patients while seeking new ones is crucial. Discovering more about your patients’ needs and interactions with your brand will help you develop a patient retention plan that works.
Patient lifetime value and retention are closely related. The health and satisfaction of patients and the lengthy financial viability of your health system can benefit from even the slightest retention improvement.
With reliable data and analytics, you may analyze your current patient retention strategies and find realistic chances to target relevant outreach to particular customer base segments. In the end, this will enable you to adopt a practical strategy for enhancing lifetime value and patient retention.