Improving Patient Retention

And Significantly Increasing Revenue

Information is king and patients are accessing it online more than ever. According to research, 72% of internet users said they looked online for health information within the past year. That number will only continue to increase, so with your patients and prospective patients looking for information online you need to be ready. Ready by having great online reviews and ready by proactively educating them about your services and the value you provide.

In a world where patients know what they want and how they want it, communication, on your terms, becomes even more important. Word of mouth just doesn’t do all the work anymore.

Here are a few ways to get patients to influence other patients to use your services:

1. Add value. Mail a personalized patient newsletter every quarter

2. Show you care. Conduct a patient survey annually

3. Be present. Email a patient newsletter monthly and ask for a google review or referral

4. Encourage Reciprocity. Include a referral incentive or loyalty gift

5. Present benefits. Ensure your website, newsletter and other communications are top quality and are focused on your primary decision maker and their priorities

Patient Newsletters. Every practice, no matter how big, small, growing or established should be sending a newsletter to patients of record. There is no more valuable or meaningful way to connect with patients outside of the practice. When done correctly a patient newsletter can yield a 300-400% return on investment. Imagine reducing attrition by 1%, increasing referrals by 8 per year and reactivating 8 more lapsed patients. For an average practice that could equal $30,000 per year … over patient lifetime we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. We haven’t missed one edition of our client Quarterly Update newsletter since we launched it in 1996.

Patient Surveys. Perception is reality. The simple act of sending a survey, even if customers don’t respond, can increase satisfaction and loyalty. In a way you’re putting patients first by asking for their input about their experience with your team, and the insights can help you make better decisions. Positive feedback can go a long way in boosting team morale. We can help by providing complete services including customized questions, mailing and tabulation.

Ask for Google Reviews. 90% of customers say buying decisions are influenced (both positively and negatively) by online reviews. Get more positive reviews by asking patients to post independent 5 star reviews. We can help by including a “how to” article in your newsletter or tip sheet attached to your monthly patient email. Direct mailing is the only way to reach 100% of your patients.

Incentives & Gifts. Everyone likes to feel like they’re getting a little something extra. Encourage case acceptance, promote special services and increase patient referrals by offering a reward. We can help by inserting a loyalty or referral card with your next patient newsletter. Postage is already covered and because your newsletter is mailed in an envelope, it’s easy to add the additional piece. We can also mail a loyalty card as a separate campaign. Ask your account manager for details.

Why Choose Your Practice. Your patients are constantly receiving special offers and communication pieces from competitive dental practices in your area. If you’re not marketing to your patients-of-record, someone else is. Ensure that you are in regular communication by providing a value add touch and you will improve retention. When patients are well informed of the benefits associated with your practice, they have less reason to shop around.

Retaining patients and increasing referrals is an ongoing project. By providing an exceptional experience, letting patients know you care and by strengthening relationships through quality educational communications, you will increase your year over year revenue.

Here’s my final little insight today. Are you listening to patients? They can be talking to you through their actions versus words. A dentist called in to inquire about our direct mail programs this week and stated, “My revenue has been dropping year over year because six new dentists have opened up shop in my area and they all take insurance. I never have, and never will, take insurance.” Is this a good business decision? There might be ways around it IF you offer unlimited access and hours 6 days a week, have awesome google reviews, accept and process insurance and help with pay plans, extended services include sedation, ortho, implants, your pricing is comparable, your team is fully trained and incentivized and you have the highest standards of sterilization along with a pristine office. And a significant enough marketing budget to keep your name in front of your area consistently. If he can’t check everything else off on the list of patient expectations, he might want to take insurance! Take a look at your competitive landscape and ensure that you are delivering as much customer service and ease of use as possible.

Here’s to building relationships and getting results!

Sources: Pew Research 2012, Dimensional Research 2013.

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