Increasing patient retention in a post pandemic marketplacePublished: July 29, 2020
Retaining patients within your dental practice may not be going as well as you have expected in the middle of the drawn-out period of economic downturn. The growth of your dental practice in the middle of this might depend on the number of new patients your practice acquires. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. Patients are cutting corners spending less on everything including dental care, causing a direct decrease in the patient flow. In this scenario, attracting new patients is quite difficult when compared to getting your regular ones attending your practice for the treatment and other procedures. Therefore, an improved rate of patient retention is of utmost importance for the growth of your dental practice right now.
Even though an effective marketing strategy might bring in patients to your dental practice, it would be of no use if they leave as quickly as they come. Patient retention is a task that entails trust and ensures that the services offered by the practice are up to the mark. Thus stopping patient drain requires a revamped set of strategic plans.
If you think your practice is undertaking its journey to retain patients and improve the practice revenue, here are some strategies in line post the pandemic.
Going 100% paperless; 80% contactless
In this ultra-digital age, carrying around books and papers is a hassle on its own. Making the appointment letters, claim forms and other billings digital, ensure a safe and hassle-free method that is helpful to retain the safety of your patients, staff and the practice. Maintain a virtual onboarding for patients with curbside check-in so that the patients can check-in for appointments and fill out intake information from the safety of their vehicles.
Online scheduling and teledentistry can keep your patients more engaged with your practice without compromising safety. Through online scheduling, you can set your own office hours which will allow patients to schedule their appointments by themselves. And then you can consult patients face-to-face through high-quality video conferencing. Going virtual is a perfect way to retain appointment volume and be ahead of the curve.
Better patient engagement
It’s not enough that a patient books a slot, you should actively follow up till he visits and his treatments are completed. At a time when patients’ safety is at stake, such engagement gives confidence to your patients and they feel connected to your practice. And then, you could try to sign them up for regular hygiene check-ups at your practice.
Most patients are happy to be reminded of their appointments. They will consider it a service rather than your marketing. Apart from reducing no-shows, it also builds patient satisfaction and revenue.
Ensuring patient satisfaction with a smooth workflow
If the workflow at your dental practice is safe, smooth and transparent, more customers tend to stay and revisit. Imagine a super busy entrepreneur making time for a speedy dental check-up even at this critical time only to be left to wait at the receptionist, then at the doctor’s and unfortunately end up with an error in her treatment plan. It is very unlikely that this patient would return to your practice. Each minute saved at the practice will be a huge relief and an appealing factor for the incoming patient. A proper scheduler can ensure minimal waiting time for the patient and increased staff productivity.
A large majority of patients claim that they would pay more for a better and safe experience than for an affordable one. Focus more on your patient experience, not just keeping your costs low.
Customized patient engagement by providing undivided attention
Patients much appreciate it when they are treated like humans rather than a number in a queue to see the dentist. When the patient reaches the doctor’s chairside, he/she must be given undivided attention and must be followed up from their last visit. An efficient patient history tracking tool and scheduler will ensure that the doctor is up-to-date with the patient’s history and make sure that double bookings don’t occur.
Communication is the essence of the doctor-patient relationship. The best way to promote proper communication between the practice and patients is by using adequate patient engagement tools and periodic reminders. SMS has a much higher response rate. Try and collect mobile number databases from your patients so that you can communicate with them regularly and send them greetings like birthdays and public holidays. Maintaining a good rapport with the patient will go a long way in boosting patient retention.
It takes a few minutes, but responding to queries on social media regularly can connect you directly with your patient base. However, most practices miss out on regularly staying in touch and actively promoting their social media presence in these troubled times.
It is a good idea to take the help of practice management systems that let you integrate with your social profile and allow you to respond to all your patients regularly. Make sure your practice management system supports 2-way communication with various channels your patients can engage you on. This is where consumers determine whether a business is worth their time or not. And they’re basing their choices increasingly on the engagement and reviews. In fact, 70% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Enough emphasis can not be given to marketing. But it is one crucial element that should be continuous. Simple marketing methods like branded merchandise, contact cards and online forums can draw patients to your practice. However, this alone is never sufficient to grow your practice. Your patients need to know that you are with them to navigate through these critical times. Set apart your branding methods; be empathetic. Make them feel that you are not exploiting their vulnerability rather than being with them giving the right care they wanted at this point in time. Build the trust and value, and that would make sure that your patients retain their loyalty to the practice.
In the coming quarters, regular cash flow will be depended more on your existing patients than on a regular flow of new patients. At the same time, a passive strategy is not going to work. Take the proper action, communicate yourself with your patients and let them be confident enough not to delay the dental treatments or to look for somewhere else that is more economical and safe.