As the healthcare industry continues to lean even more towards the values of consumerism, patient loyalty has become a top priority for most organizations. But, maintaining high levels of patient loyalty in today's marketplace isn't an easy task. In fact, a study published by NRC Health found that more than 40 percent of patients are not loyal to any hospital or health system. For this reason, it is more important than ever for health systems to cultivate a strong patient retention strategy.
Patient retention starts with patient acquisition and engagement
Improving patient loyalty is more than just providing a positive patient experience and satisfying patients. It relies on having a strong patient retention strategy that ensures every step of your patient journey provides convenient, quality, and personalized interactions. Therefore, your healthcare organization must look at the patient journey holistically . With this in mind, here are patient acquisition, patient engagement, and retention strategies that can help your healthcare organization foster patient loyalty.
The patient journey begins the moment a patient realizes they require care and starts their search for the ideal healthcare provider. Healthcare organizations must ensure that patients cannot only find you when searching for a provider but that there is information available that offers patients a greater level of insight into your facility and the care you provide. Many potential patients find reviews, social media, and news crucial during their research to make an informed decision. If your organization is not yet active and engaged on social platforms, now is the time to develop a social media strategy. Failure to do so could cause potential digital-minded patients to seek care elsewhere.
Even more, your organization needs to be sure to respond to reviews—both negative and positive. Not only is it important for you to be aware of what your patients are saying, but it shows patients that you are taking the extra time to read and respond to their experience with your organization. Another key part of any patient acquisition strategy is implementing convenient digital technologies that allow you to acquire new patients 24/7. For example, utilizing an online scheduling solution will enable patients to schedule appointments with your organization even during closed office hours.
Busy patients are prone to forget or simply not show up for their appointments. Patients who fail to show up to scheduled appointments or cancel at the last minute give your organization no opportunity to fill the appointment slot. In addition, no-shows result in a loss of time and money for you and disrupt the patient's continuum of care. However, sending automated appointment reminders via text, email, or phone call can reduce no-show rates by keeping patients informed about upcoming appointments.
Engaging with patients beyond their channel of choice to their channel of activation can better ensure they receive the care the need when they need it. For example, according to our recent Patient Engagement Survey, 37% of patients said they prefer email for communication, but only 2% said that they rescheduled an appointment from an email prompt. Additionally, utilizing appointment reminders can help ensure schedules are optimized, reducing unnecessary downtime for physicians. When patients show up to appointments as planned, healthcare organizations can focus on what they do best: providing expert care. When patients have a positive experience with your organization, they are more likely to engage with you in the future. This could be through health and wellness classes or events, recommending your organization to others, writing a positive review, or even becoming a loyal patient.
Once the patient's visit is over, healthcare providers should continue engaging the patient to retain their loyalty. One of the best patient retention strategies is by following up and receiving feedback through patient surveys. If patients aren't pleased with their experience and service, a survey allows your organization to be aware of the issues that could hurt your reputation and cause patients to seek a competitor. Even more, your organization can use the responses to address areas that need improvement and better understand what you are doing well.
Another way to engage patients is by providing educational information that showcases your expertise on different topics. This could be done through various marketing tactics, but specifically thought leadership blogs or even social media. By regularly posting blogs and having a social media presence, you can keep your organization top of mind for patients. Even more, it could serve as a reminder for patients to book an appointment with your organization that they might have forgotten about.
A strong patient retention strategy considers the entire patient journey
Despite how much progress organizations have made in enhancing the patient experience, 80% of patients would consider switching providers just for convenience factors alone. For healthcare organizations to attract and maintain patient loyalty, they must have the right patient retention strategies and solutions in place. Learn more about the modern patient journey in our eBook—The Modern Patient Journey: Marketing's Expanding Role in Patient Engagement.