Communication is Key to Patient Retention

 In Customer Service, Patients

One of the most effective ways to build a thriving healthcare practice is to focus on quality relationships with your patients. When people feel comfortable with your staff, they will continue coming back and refer other patients to the practice, too.

The Journal of the American Dental Association (ADA) reported that only four out of ten new patients are retained beyond their first appointment. This trend is common in other healthcare specialties as well. Regardless of your medical focus, it would be best to prioritize the activities that result in patient satisfaction and word-of-mouth growth.

Yes, it’s important to bring in new patients. But the cost of acquiring a new patient is much higher compared to retaining current patients. With the right patient retention strategies, you can build a solid foundation that grows your business and supports many patients’ needs at the same time.

Patient Retention: Why Communication Matters

You’ve probably heard the saying that communication is key – and this phrase is more applicable than ever in the healthcare industry. Not only does communication build a solid foundation for all relationships, but doctor-patient communication helps to build trust. When a patient trusts the staff and physicians, they will feel at ease coming back to your office again in the future.

The current healthcare industry is consumer-centric, which means that healthcare providers are vying for patient attention and spending. Life priorities can pull a patient’s engagement in various ways, so you need to be proactive in helping them see the importance of an ongoing relationship with your providers and staff.

The healthcare industry can be competitive, especially in larger cities and metropolitan areas where patients have many options when choosing a provider. Communication helps you stand out from the competition, showing patients your commitment to providing top-notch support every step of the way.

Steps to Improving Communication with Patients

Physicians need to be effective in their communication with patients, but assisting members in the office needs also to be a part of this effort. A team approach to improving communication creates a sense of solidarity, ensuring communication continuity for each patient.

Here are a few methods to improve your office communication with current and potential patients:

  • Pre-Appointment and Post-Appointment Communication: A simple text message or email reminder is a great way to improve appointment show rates. At the same time, you communicate to each client how proactive your team is preparing for the appointment. It can also help have a follow-up conversation after the appointment to see how the patient is doing.
  • Face-to-Face Communication: You also need to be sure that there is plenty of time to talk with patients face-to-face. A quick 2 to 3-minute visit with the doctor isn’t enough to help the patient feel like they are receiving the needed care. Spread out your appointments enough so that doctors, nurses, and staff members can share their undivided attention with patients.
  • Follow-Up Communication: Whether you made a verbal promise in an appointment to send information to a patient, or you need to handle an ROI for PHI, make sure that you are consistent about responding to these requests. When your words and actions align, then it builds trust in the relationships with each patient.
  • Verbal and Written Communication: Some people respond better through verbal communication, while others prefer written information. Make it a point to offer both oral and written details whenever possible, especially when a patient’s medical records are requested. For example, present the patient with a sheet for post-appointment care and also talk them through the steps they should be following.

Systemizing Communication

It’s easy for communication to fall through the cracks when your schedule is full and you have a lot going on in the office. Systemization can be an effective way to keep up with patient requests and appointment reminders.

What useful tips and techniques have you found helpful in communicating with patients and third parties? We want to know!

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