Satisfied customers and unsatisfied customer all have one thing in common, they all talk, and others repeat what they say. Let’s face it, patients are customers and as healthcare professionals we have to worry not only about keeping them healthy but keeping them coming back.
A Harvard Review study states that depending on what industry you’re in, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. It makes sense: you don’t have to spend time and resources going out and finding a new patient — you just have to keep the ones you have happy.
All customer oriented industries have some customer churn. In healthcare it is, called Patient Churn. That is patients who come once but do not return. This can happen for many reasons. In business in general, upwards of 70% of people who take their business elsewhere do so because they perceive an attitude of indifference. Admittedly, their perception may not have been due to a deliberate slight or discourtesy, but the result is staggering anyway.
The Cost of Acquiring a New Patient
The cost of acquiring a new patient can be high. Let’s say your healthcare organization is spending $2,000 for the month in marketing. These marketing efforts, produced 20 leads and converted 5 into appointments.
$2,000 / 20 leads = $100 per lead.
$2,000 / 5 scheduled appointments = $400 per new patient acquired.
If you are a large healthcare organization with a patient churn rate of 10% annually and you see 500,000 patients annually, you could be losing as many as 50,000 patients per year. If it costs $400 to acquire a new patient, you could be spending upwards of $20M per year on marketing just to maintain the number of patients you currently have.
Ways to Retain Patients
- Create a great first impression. Make sure your staff is friendly, well trained and positive.
- Treat patients/clients with respect. Successful practices sustain a constant culture of respect, leaving no room for anyone to feel that they (the patient, visitor, family member) are an intrusion or interruption to the busy office environment.
- Adopt a biometric registration system. Biometric registration systems reduce registration time per patient and provide the patient with the reassurance that you care strongly about patient safety.
- Anticipate problems and obstacles. Beyond reacting, it’s also about getting ahead of issues that could impact patient retention. If, for example, you have many patients who are employees of a particular company that company’s insurance plan is about to change. A proactive strategy can have a big impact on patient retention.
- Stay on schedule. Sure, this isn’t always possible, but staying on schedule is a major factor in retention. There is a clear message of “indifference” that flows when people frequently experience long wait times.
- Confirm appointment in advance. Reminding people the day before an appointment is good office and calendar administration, and equally important it lets people know that you respect their schedule also.
- Establish and use a recall system in which you schedule the next appointment in advance, usually at the end of the current appointment. Review your recall routine to be sure the process is proactive, and includes multiple contacts.
Adding in Biometric Registration to Prevent Patient Churn
Adding a biometric patient id system to accurately identify a registered patient can help prevent patient churn. Privasent offers a unique combination of an encrypted smart card and a biometric patient Id system to produce a unique, absolute and interoperable identity. The smartcard can be branded by the hospital or healthcare group and serve as a loyalty token, as well as provide absolute healthcare identity for the patient.
Privasent enhances the patient safety and patient satisfaction aspect of your health care facility. Absolute healthcare identity supports your healthcare facility by reducing patient misidentification and duplicate records, eliminating identity fraud, and reducing billing errors.
When you put patient safety above all else you will go a long way to creating a caring, patient-centric culture. If you want to know more about biometric identification, check out our website at privasent.com or request a consultation.