Having long-term, established patients is a crucial component to any well-run practice. Bringing on new patients is no easy feat. Good business strategists understand that holding on to existing patients is much more cost-effective than trying to bring on new patients every year.

Do you know your patient retention rate?

Before you can even begin considering ways to retain patients, ask yourself this: Do you know how many patients you lose, gain and maintain each year? Is the number you lose greater than the number you gain? If you don’t have a clear idea of these metrics, get to calculating! The only way to know if you’ve improved is to know where you started.

Once you’ve figured out how many patients you lose per year (hey, it may be even lower than you thought), you’re ready to start incorporating some proven patient retention strategies.

10 fool-proof ways to increase patient retention

If you’re serious about amping up patient retention, these 10 methods will do the trick!

  1. Optimize your front desk reception. During business hours, it’s best to always have someone answering the phones. Occasionally, it may be necessary to have an automated response, but make sure it takes patients to a person instead of a voice message. A great way to lose patients is consistently forcing them to leave messages or call back later. If you are already using a telemedicine platform that enables asynchronous messaging, both you and your staff can keep latency to a minimum between responses to your patients. 
  2. Confirm appointments in advance. Confirming appointments in advance not only helps optimize your practice by catching potential no-shows, it’s also a big help to patients. Remember, they’re often just as busy as you are (and probably more forgetful).  
  3. Try to reduce wait time. While this may not be as much of a factor in our time of social distancing with most appointments being virtual, when we do return to our offices it will again be important to reduce the times our patients have to wait for us. No one likes waiting around, and although most delays are due to patient tardiness, it’s important to limit wait times as much as possible. If a patient has to wait more than 20 minutes, a simple apology goes a long way in showing you acknowledge and respect their time.
  4. Be friendly, from start to finish. The number one reason customers leave a business is perceived rudeness or indifference. Make sure everyone on your staff, from the front desk to nurses and providers, is well-versed in how to politely interact with patients. Greet everyone with “Hi, how are you?” as opposed to jumping right into business. This small tactic can go a very long way. It is especially important when using text-based messaging available with many telemedicine apps, as the nuances we take for granted with verbal communication are often misperceived with non-verbal communication. 
  5. Be transparent about cost. No one likes being hit with unforeseen costs, and patients are no exception. Yes, it should be the responsibility of the patient to understand their insurance policy, but we know that’s rarely the case. Make sure cost of treatment is clearly discussed before care is given. And this is something easy to set up on your Direct Heath profile for your telehealth visits.
  6. Walk the patient to the check-out area. Care doesn’t have to end in the exam room. Walk your patients up to the front desk for check-out and ask them if they have any more questions before passing them over to the front desk staff. These small acts of engagement can go a long way in showing your patients you care.
  7. Keep them engaged in their care. If patients require regular follow-up appointments, stay on top of that information. If you find that a patient is due for his/her next appointment, have a member of your staff reach out to them and schedule a visit.
  8. Ask them what they think. Have patient surveys readily available around your office. If you send regular marketing emails, include a survey at the bottom. This gives patients a chance to have their opinions heard, and it gives you insight into what your patients need and want.
  9. Act as a resource for them. Act as a well-informed, personable resource for your patients. Engage them with regular marketing emails that include information on how they can maintain and improve their health and wellness. Don’t be afraid to throw a little humor into these, too!
  10. Give your patients convenient healthcare. One of the best ways to keep patients around is to offer them the added convenience of telemedicine services. With telemedicine, they can have their face-to-face follow-up appointment without taking time off work or hiring a baby-sitter.

Final words

Increasing patient retention is all about increasing patient satisfaction. Make them feel at home. Make them feel cared for. And, most importantly, make them see that you’re listening to their needs. We’ve shown you 10 fool-proof ways to keep your patients coming back — now it’s time for you to put them to work for you.


About Direct Health

Direct Health is working to change how healthcare is delivered by recreating the doctor-patient relationship. With the secure messaging app, physicians and patients have the ability to connect via text, call, or video, from anywhere and on their schedule. This enables patients to chat with their doctor, vet, or therapist at any time, and clinicians to extend care and get paid without extra overhead or burdensome schedules. With over 20,000 doctors across the platform, Direct Health is leading the way in the future of healthcare. For more information, visit http://www.directhealth.us.