Effective Patient Retention Strategies for Healthcare Providers

Doctor with a happy patient

Patient retention is essential for running a successful healthcare practice but often takes a back seat to patient acquisition.

Patient acquisition is typically deemed to be the easiest of the two, so many healthcare providers will aggressively pursue acquiring new patients and frequently neglect retention strategies.

Acquiring new patients for growth is undoubtedly needed, but retaining patients is the more cost-effective of the two. What’s more, churning through patients can deplete your customer base and give your practice a bad name.

In short, a well-rounded healthcare marketing strategy should concentrate on both patient acquisition and retention.

If you’re struggling with patient retention, read on. We have compiled a comprehensive guide to help you implement effective patient retention strategies, including proven techniques to increase patient loyalty and improve your bottom line.

The Business Case for Patient Retention

doctor holding a growing plant with gold coins to represent business growth

Investing part of your budget in patient retention really makes the most sound financial sense, with studies showing that it costs five times more to acquire a new patient than to retain an existing one.

However, the benefits of patient retention extend beyond immediate cost savings. Satisfied patients are more likely to refer their friends and family to your practice, leading to a steady stream of new patients through word-of-mouth referrals. Patients who rate your service highly are more inclined to leave positive online reviews, further attracting new patients.

Patient retention also contributes to a more stable and predictable revenue stream. By maintaining a loyal patient base, healthcare providers can better forecast their income and plan for future investments in their practice.

On the other hand, failing to focus on patient retention can result in a whole host of negative consequences. 

High patient turnover can lead to increased administrative costs, as staff must constantly process new patient paperwork and update records. It can also strain your team’s morale since they must continually start from scratch.

Ultimately, the business case for retention is clear – investing in strategies to keep your patients satisfied will save you money, improve your reputation, drive new customer acquisition, and take the pressure off your staff.

8 Strategies to Increase Patient Retention Rates

comfortable waiting room

Below are eight proven strategies for improving patient retention that can be implemented by healthcare practices of all sizes.

#1 Creating a Welcoming Environment

A successful patient retention strategy starts with your physical practice. Your waiting room is the first point of contact for patients and sets the tone for their entire experience. To create a welcoming atmosphere, consider investing in comfortable seating, soothing décor, and a variety of engaging reading materials. 

To help patients feel at ease in your practice, consider offering complimentary refreshments, such as coffee, tea, or water.

As well as making your physical space welcoming, your staff should also be friendly and welcoming, trained to be courteous, empathetic, and attentive to patients’ needs. Encourage them to greet patients with a warm smile and a friendly demeanor and to take the time to listen to any concerns and questions they may have.

So, don’t underestimate the power of a friendly smile, a comfy chair, and a genuine commitment to patient care – these small details can make a big difference in keeping your patients happy and coming back for more.

#2 Develop a Professional Website

These days, with most patients going online as their first port of call, a well-designed website specifically for healthcare can’t be an afterthought. Patients will come back to your site in between care to book appointments or access information. If the site is slow, clunky, or difficult to navigate, this will certainly affect patient satisfaction and potentially drive them to seek care elsewhere.

Your website should be designed with the patient experience in mind. It should load quickly, be easy to navigate, and provide clear calls to action for booking appointments, accessing patient portals, or contacting your practice.

The design should be clean, professional, and reflective of your brand, with easy-to-read fonts and a color scheme that’s easy on the eyes. You can check out some of our award-winning healthcare site designs here to get an idea of what to include.

Additionally, your website should be optimized for search engines. When your website ranks well for relevant keywords, it increases your visibility and establishes your practice as a trusted authority in your field. This can reinforce your credibility with existing patients, making them more likely to continue using your services.

#3 Providing Online Health Resources

Continuing on from a well-designed website, the content you add to that site plays a big part in patient retention, so it deserves a section of its own. Providing valuable, relevant, and engaging online health resources can help keep your patients informed and connected to your practice, even between appointments.

One of the best types of content to consider is educational resources. This could include patient education videos, knowledge bases, and informative blog posts.

#4 Simplifying How Patients Schedule Appointments

To make the appointment scheduling process easier, implement an online booking system that’s user-friendly so patients can easily view available time slots and book their appointments with just a few clicks.

Look for a mobile-friendly booking system with HIPAA-compliant forms that can be completed from any device. 

To create a cohesive brand experience, choose an online booking system that allows you to customize the forms to match the look and feel of your website. This attention to detail can go a long way in reinforcing your professional image and building patient confidence. 

Another valuable feature to look for is e-signature support so that patients can digitally sign any necessary online medical forms or consents.

#5 Conducting Patient Surveys

Regularly gathering feedback from your patients is a powerful way to gauge their satisfaction and identify areas that you can improve at your practice. Patient health surveys can give you a great insight into the patient experience. With this information, you can make data-driven decisions to improve your retention efforts.

The secret is to make them engaging and concise. You want to ensure that your surveys are easy to complete and take up only a little of your patients’ time, at most 5-10 minutes to complete.

#6 Improving Access to Care

What are some ways that will add even better access to your services?

A good example of improving access to care is through telehealth and video chat services. Virtual consultations are a clear benefit to patients who may have difficulty coming into the office due to distance, mobility issues, or scheduling conflicts. With Telehealth, you can expand your reach, serving patients in remote areas who might not otherwise have access to your services.

Another way to improve access to care is by extending your opening hours with early morning, evening, or weekend appointments. Many patients have work or family obligations that make it difficult to schedule appointments during traditional business hours. If a patient schedule doesn’t fit your opening hours, a more flexible competitor might be more appealing, potentially leading to patient attrition.

#7 Continuous Engagement Through Digital Communication

Two of the best tools for maintaining strong relationships and keeping your health practice top-of-mind are social media and email marketing.

These are often set up and neglected, as they are easy to create but it requires some time and resources to maintain them. If this sounds like you, then use the services of a trusted healthcare marketing agency such as Practis for email marketing and social media management.

Social media platforms give you the opportunity to connect with your patients on a more personal level. If you regularly post content that engages and informs, it will encourage patients to follow your social media accounts and interact with your posts.

Email marketing is another effective way to keep your patients engaged between appointments. Send out regular newsletters that share health information, promote new services, and remind patients of the importance of preventive care. Segment your email list based on patient preferences or demographics for more targeted, relevant content.

#8 Undertaking Regular Evaluations

The 8th strategy in this ultimate guide to retention is to take stock of the different retention strategies that you have implemented from this list and determine which ones are working well and which may need to be adjusted or replaced.

If you’ve implemented a patient satisfaction survey, analyze the response rate and the overall satisfaction scores. Compare the results over time to see if your retention strategies are having a positive impact on patient satisfaction.

Have you introduced extended hours? Monitor the number of appointments booked during those times and gather feedback from patients on the convenience factor.

Establish a timeline for evaluating each strategy, such as quarterly or bi-annually, depending on the nature of the initiative. Use a combination of quantitative data (e.g., number of appointments booked ) and qualitative feedback (e.g., patient comments, staff observations).

How to Win Back Former Patients

doctor welcoming back a patient

Despite your best efforts, some patients will still end up leaving your practice. This doesn’t mean they’re lost forever. You can get those former patients to return.

The first question to ask is why they left in the first place. This might involve conducting exit surveys or reaching out personally to gather feedback. Once you have some clear reasons behind their departure, you can take targeted steps to address those issues and show that you value their feedback.

One effective strategy is to reach out with personalized communications. This could be an email, a letter, or even a phone call expressing that you value their relationship and inviting them to come back. Be sure to highlight any positive changes or improvements you’ve made to your practice due to patient feedback, demonstrating that you’re committed to providing a better experience.

When former patients do return, make sure to go above and beyond to welcome them back and give them an exceptional experience. And don’t forget to continue engaging with these patients after their return visit.

Wrapping Up

Patient relationships take time to develop, nurture, and grow. By putting measures in place to retain them, you can create a stable and loyal patient base that will support your practice for years to come. The strategies we’ve shared in this guide are proven to help you build strong, lasting relationships with your patients.

Understandably, with a busy healthcare practice to run, implementing these strategies can be a challenging task.

That’s where Practis comes in.

As a full-service healthcare marketing agency with 25 years of experience, we specialize in helping practices like yours implement effective patient retention and acquisition strategies.

Contact Practis today so we can help you build a thriving practice with a loyal patient base that will stand the test of time.

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