Is your practice only half full most of the time? What if one of the keys to help you increase patient retention was simply having contact information in an easily accessible place? We don’t mean buried in your EHR system somewhere either. Having contact information available in a way that’s easily accessible (and actually using it to market) can be a key to keeping patients in your practice for the long haul.
Identify the Most Important Data Points
There are a few key data points you’ll want to collect and keep within a few clicks to increase patient retention. They’re obvious, sure, but how many steps away are they for your office? You’ll see why this matters a little further into the article.
- Patient Name – You need a list of every patient that has scheduled an appointment with you, like, ever. Why does this matter? Because every piece of communication you send to patients should be personalized specifically to them.
- Patient Birthday – Who doesn’t love a reminder they’re getting old? Just kidding. Seriously though, having this information at your fingertips and sending out a birthday card or email wish can go a long way toward showing patients you care.
- Patient Cell Phone Number – You’ve probably noticed (or someone at your front desk has) patients don’t want to be called. They don’t pick up the phone very often, especially the younger ones. Most would prefer a text so make sure you’re collecting this data. Who has a home phone anymore anyway?
- Patient Email – The average person checks email on their phone 34 times every day. Email newsletters are a prime way to communicate directly with patients on a large scale, drive them to your website and get instant analytic data on how they interact with your practice. Why aren’t you collecting these and using them to market your practice?
We are constantly surprised at the number of offices that don’t have this information handy, especially email addresses. It should be required, just like a first and last name, before seeing a patient. This data helps unlock necessary patient retention tools, so make sure you’re collecting it and filing it in an easy to find system. Can you export this data easily? If not, you need to. Take the time to learn your EHR system to find out what it can really do to help you increase patient retention.
Automate Appointment Reminders
Remember how we said earlier that patients prefer texts and check their email a ton throughout the day? That leads to our next tip: automating your appointment reminders via email and text. In other words, communicate with your patients in the way(s) they want to be communicated with. Plus, if reminders are automated, think of all the time you’ll have freed up for your staff to concentrate on other tasks.
Look for a provider that allows you to easily import patient contact information so you can automate appointment reminders, birthday wishes, special notes/days and more. Remember, most patients don’t miss appointments because they don’t need you anymore, they miss them because they forget or don’t check their voicemails. In some practices we’ve worked with, we have seen automated reminders cut no shows by more than half.
Send Out Monthly eNewsletters
We do these for all of our clients because they are so, so effective. Newsletters serve as a way to send out health education and practice updates directly to your patient population. You can also include a call to action to refer a friend or schedule an appointment.
As an added benefit, since you’ll be sending out relevant articles specific to your practice’s specialty, it will force you to create new content. This new content should then be put on your website and linked in the newsletter to patients, driving them to your site. As an added benefit, your web content will have an organic SEO value, thereby helping even more patients discover your practice (assuming your content is well written and your website is properly optimized).
Newsletters are a great way to remind patients of all of your service lines and the various ways you can treat them, their family and their friends as well. Be sure to include social media links and, should you offer text and email reminders, you can also include information on how a patient can opt-in to those services if they have not already.
There you have it. A few of the easy ways you can turn patient data into automation to increase patient retention and decrease missed appointments. It may sound daunting, but setting these systems up is remarkable easy and it will save you time, money and a headache or two. What more could you ask for?