Back to the Basics: Patient Retention

Patient retention is an essential measurement of practice success and can be the difference between profit gain and profit loss in private practice.[i] Loyal patients bring in repeat business while also boosting a practice’s reputation by word-of-mouth referrals to family and friends.[ii]

Patient Retention by the Numbers

Retention is often measured by tracking how many patients return to the practice for care within a certain time frame.[iii] Patient retention can help save practices money too, efforts to retain existing patients can cost up to 25 times less than efforts to attract new patients.[iv] A 25% increase in profit can be achieved by increasing patient retention by just 5%.[v]

Research has shown that only 16% of practices intentionally focus on patient retention.[vi] While only a small number of practices currently have a retention plan, a study by Emergen Research predicted that the patient engagement solutions market will be worth approximately $41.2 billion by 2027.[vii] This increase shows that the healthcare industry is increasingly seeing the value of patient retention.[viii]

Tips on Patient Retention

The patient experience is vital to retention and practice success, meaning that staff interactions with patients should focus on cultivating patient loyalty. There are various aspects to consider when developing a retention strategy including marketing, managing patient expectations, communication, and feedback.[ix]

Clear and effective communication goes a long way in retaining patients. Part of clear communication is setting patient expectations upfront. Making patients aware of treatment plans and financial options are important for patient retention. Taking these steps upfront can help reduce awkward conversations in the future.[x] Effective communication should also include a focus on positive interactions between staff and patients, addressing long wait times, being available by phone, and responding to negative reviews appropriately.[xi]

Frequent communication between visits is also important, this can be achieved by sending personalized birthday and holiday greetings to patients.[xii] Automated marketing and education tools can assist in patient retention by allowing for frequent interactions with patients, such as sending emails, newsletters, and appointment reminders.[xiii]

Finally, just as communicating with patients is important, it is also important to listen to patients and their experiences. A common tool used to help improve patient retention is surveys. Surveys can help find problems and determine what resources patients are looking for.[xiv] If a patient leaves a negative response on a survey, it is important to address the response in a professional manner and show patients that the practice is listening, receptive to feedback, and actively working to improve the patient experience.[xv]

Conclusion

High patient retention can have a positive financial impact on a practice, but low patient retention can have a detrimental impact on a practice. Marketing, clear communication, and responding to feedback is key to high patient retention and setting up a practice for success.

References:
[i] “What Is Patient Retention and Why Does It Matter for Your Practice?” Sequence Health. Last modified September 14, 2021. Accessed December 13, 2022. https://www.sequencehealth.com/blog/what-is-patient-retention-and-why-does-it-matter-for-your-practice.  
[ii] “What Is Patient Retention and Why Does It Matter for Your Practice?”; Beychok, Tina. “Making personal marketing connections for patient retention, new patients.” Chiropractic Economics. Last modified March 30, 2021. https://www.chiroeco.com/personal-marketing/
[iii] “The Importance of Effective Patient Retention Strategies.” ProviderTech. Last modified April 12, 2022. https://www.providertech.com/importance-of-effective-patient-retention-strategies/
[iv] Polet, David. “How Patient Engagement Directly Results in Patient Retention.” Wellbe. Last modified March 27, 2022. https://wellbe.me/how-patient-engagement-directly-results-in-patient-retention/
[v] Prasad, Ajay. “Patient Acquisition Vs. Retention: Which Is More Important For Healthcare      Businesses?” Forbes. Last modified July 14, 2022. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2022/07/14/patient-acquisition-vs-retention-which-is-more-important-for-healthcare-businesses/?sh=51c1497d419c.   
[vi] “The Importance of Effective Patient Retention Strategies.”
[vii] Polet, David. “How Patient Engagement Directly Results in Patient Retention.” Wellbe. Last modified March 27, 2022. https://wellbe.me/how-patient-engagement-directly-results-in-patient-retention/
[viii] “The Importance of Effective Patient Retention Strategies.”
[ix] Bodzin, Miles. “The 4 ‘F’s’ of a patient retention strategy.” Chiropractic Economics. Last modified February 11, 2022. https://www.chiroeco.com/patient-retention-strategy/.
[x] Bodzin, Miles. “The 4 ‘F’s’ of a patient retention strategy.”
[xi] Prasad, Ajay. “Patient Acquisition Vs. Retention: Which Is More Important For Healthcare Businesses?”
[xii] Prasad, Ajay. “Patient Acquisition Vs. Retention: Which Is More Important For Healthcare Businesses?”
[xiii] “8 Proven Patient Retention Strategies That Work.” Practice Builders. Last modified December 20, 2017. https://www.practicebuilders.com/blog/8-proven-patient-retention-strategies-that-work/
[xiv] Gandolf, Stewart. “9 Essentials of Improving Patient Retention.” Healthcare Success.      https://healthcaresuccess.com/blog/medical-marketing-advertising/the-9-essentials-of-improving-patient-retention.html. ;  “8 Proven Patient Retention Strategies That Work.”
[xv] Prasad, Ajay. “Patient Acquisition Vs. Retention: Which Is More Important For Healthcare Businesses?”

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