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As a healthcare provider, your top priority is to provide quality care to your patients. But you also need to think of the business side of running a practice. And the most important element you need to consider is your patients.
Are your patients satisfied with your services and your care? Are they likely to come back to your practice? These are important questions you need to know the answers to in order to have an idea about what your patients think about you. If you think that your patients would answer NO to those questions, then you’re likely struggling with patient loyalty and you need to do something about it.
The Challenge in Maintaining Patient Loyalty
Patient loyalty is one of the most important factors driving the success of your practice. Truth be told, maintaining loyalty in any industry is challenging – however, this is especially true in the healthcare industry. Factors such as the continuous increase in healthcare costs, health insurance issues, and higher expectations from patients also contribute to this existing problem.
There are emerging realities in the healthcare market that providers should be aware of such as the evolution of digital health and the fact that patients are more informed today about their options. This makes earning patient loyalty more important than ever. Marketers regularly bombard patients with advertisements about the latest and trending products and services, and yet sometimes, it’s not enough. With the advent of smartphones and tablets, patients can now easily change their healthcare provider in just one click. Because of this, it’s led to higher expectations towards patient care. In turn, sometimes this makes it difficult for healthcare providers to satisfy patients and maintain high levels of patient loyalty.
According to a report provided by GE Healthcare Camden Group, an alarming 81% of consumers are unsatisfied with their healthcare experience. One of the reasons is that there is a gap in perception between providers and patients on the quality of experience currently being provided. You might wonder that if patients aren’t happy with their experiences, then why haven’t they left yet. In a study conducted by Accenture, 40% of patients said that they find switching providers a hassle.
The Power of Patient Loyalty
I can’t stress enough how patient loyalty is critical to the success of your practice, and you need to start paying attention to it. You might think that it’s good enough that your patients are satisfied and that you don’t need to focus on ensuring that you retain those patients. This is where you’re wrong. Patient satisfaction can get you by for weeks, even months. However, patient loyalty will ensure that patients stay around and that your practice survives and thrives. When patients are loyal to you, they will have no second thoughts about telling others about their positive experience at your practice. If their family or friends are also in a similar situation and need the same services, your patients will jump at the chance to recommend your practice.
Even today, word-of-mouth marketing is still the most valuable forms of marketing and the one that is most likely to drive more patients for your practice. In fact, according to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from family and friends over all forms of advertising. This proves that you need patient loyalty to get more patients in an effective, and mostly free, way.
How to Boost Patient Loyalty
If I’ve convinced you about the importance of patient loyalty, then below are a few tips that you can follow to help you boost patient loyalty at your practice.
Strengthen your relationship with patients.
As a healthcare provider, you need to go above and beyond what is expected of you to ensure patients have what they need and what they want. You need to give your patients a reason to stay and choose you as a healthcare provider over local competitors. Take time to profile your patients and learn what experiences they crave. Once you figure that out, offer it to them. If they want a patient portal where they can easily access information or services online, then offer it to them. If they want a shorter wait time when they are at your office, then develop strategies to keep them entertained or make your processes shorter. No matter what it is they want, strive to provide it for them.
Encourage patient recommendations.
When you ask for feedback or recommendations from patients, they will feel like they are being listened to and that their opinions matter. It will also give you an idea about what they like and what they don’t like. This will help you take the necessary steps to improve the things that your patients think are lacking. Whether the feedback you receive is positive or negative, it will still motivate you to improve your performance and provide your patients with the best quality of care.
Make it easy for your patients to choose you.
In order for patients to choose you, make it easy for them. Improve your online visibility and make sure that when people search for your services, your practice’s name will appear. Provide channels for patient’s friends, family, staff, and coworkers to refer or recommend. As much as possible, make their first-time experiences with you memorable so that they won’t even entertain the idea of looking for another provider.
Acquiring new patients is a big challenge in today’s evolving healthcare industry. New technologies that enable patients to have options, like urgent care clinics, have made healthcare convenient and yet a little more complicated. With all these realities, you need to improve your patient loyalty as it drives incredible value to your practice. Did you know that attracting new patients can cost you up to five times more than retaining your current patients? Yes, you read that one right. I’m not saying that you should not put any effort into acquiring new patients. But it’s also really important that you focus on retaining your current patients as well.
If you’re looking for a medical marketing agency to help you formulate strategies on how to retain your existing patients, Website4MD can help you. We’ll create strategies, both digital and offline, that will help you increase engagement, boost loyalty, and deliver results. Give us a call and we’ll help you get started.