What You Can Do To Retain More Of Your Private Practice’s Patients
When running a private practice, you may be speaking to an inflexible need, that is the need that your patients have for healthcare. But you are also speaking to a crowded market, where competitors could swoop in and take the patients you worked hard to win over. So, what can you do to ensure that you’re able to better retain your patients and keep them coming back to you as their trusted healthcare provider?
Ensure a friendly and helpful welcome
First impressions matter no matter what business you are in. However, in a business that relies so closely on interpersonal relations, and establishing trust and authority in your services, they matter even more. For most patients, the first real contact they have with your services is going to be over the phone. As such, having a good phone system that quickly puts them through to one of the team members is vital. Training your team to speak in friendly tones and to be patient as they help patients communicate and fulfill their needs can make a huge difference in that first impression. That positive impact is likely to last with your patients for a long time, just as a negative experience will stick in their minds for a long time, too.
Booking appointments should be easy
If your patients have any trouble booking appointments, then that is going to increase the chances that they book them with someone else, instead. The above tip of having a phone system ready to redirect them to a helpful member of staff can definitely make it a lot easier to book appointments, but you should also offer the tools for them to be able to do it independently, as well. Having an appointment scheduling tool on your website that is directly connected to your own internal software can make sure that patients can take care of their needs, themselves, and can also reduce some of the strain on your staff since they don’t have to book every appointment themselves.
Make sure they have reasonable expectations
You might think that promising your patients the best results that you can offer and raising their hopes is going to get them in the door. So long as you’re careful not to run afoul of medical advertising law, it may well work, too. However, if the results that they get don’t match the expectations that you built up, then they are going to blame you, and at the very least are likely to leave in disappointment rather than come back to your practice. Talk with patients honestly and know how to communicate in a way that helps them develop realistic expectations. You want them confident in your treatment, but you don’t want to make any promises that you’re not going to be able to keep.
Falling behind in treatment trends
Sometimes, the best ways are the traditional ways that have been working without major problems for a long time. However, the medical field is always evolving and, as part of that, new technologies in your practice can allow you to more effectively diagnose and treat your patients. Effective technology is very important in medicine, both from the hardware that you use to the software that keeps the place ticking. If other practices are better able to offer new and improved treatments for your patient’s condition, then don’t be surprised if they decide to switch over to the practice that seems to be better suited to your needs. Address your technology needs on a regular basis.
Ensure better outcomes with improved infrastructure
You might have the best doctors and treatment methods available, but the outcomes in patient treatments can still suffer due to a lack of the systems that support your team trying to do their jobs. Problems with care navigation, creating health plans, and even administrative factors such as accounting, billing, and more can make it more difficult for your team to focus on providing the standard of care that they should be able to. Working with the appropriate management services organization can help you delegate a lot of these essential, but often distracting duties. This can allow you and your team to focus on care, first and foremost, which can improve outcomes and result in happier patients who are more willing to return.
Keep waiting times down
In keeping with the idea that effective management of your practice can directly improve the patient experience, it applies to more than just their treatment. Long waiting times are a major problem in the healthcare industry, and one of the leading causes of late patients is down to patients feeling like their own time isn’t respected. Having patients wait too long leaves the exact wrong impression. You can improve this issue by notifying patients about expected waiting times based on patient volumes ahead of time, when possible, and you can use patient scheduling software to ensure that they are seen as quickly as possible. Telemedicine is also helping doctors treat more patients in a given period of time.
Remain accessible after the appointment is over
Many of the tips have been about making sure that your team can be present and ready for the appointment, and that it’s easier for patients to make them happen. However, you should ensure that you and your team can be there for them after the appointment is over. Giving them lines of communication, whether it’s an email address, direct number, or a support ticket they can use when calling the office can help you more quickly address any additional concerns or questions they might have. You don’t want your patients to feel like you’re rushing them out the door, only to be done with them when they’re through it.
Hopefully, the examples of improvements that you can make, as mentioned above, give you some clear instructions on the improvements you can make to increase the retention rate of your patients. If they don’t help, then there are might a more fundamental problem or mistake you’re making with your business that you need to investigate.