Patient retention is a major concern for healthcare facilities, especially in major metropolitan areas where there is a lot of choice. It is more important than ever to treat your patients well and really earn their business. You want your good patients to return and to suggest you to their friends and family when someone needs a brilliant and caring physician. This involves something that many practices have forgotten altogether: customer service.
Emphasizing Customer Service in Healthcare – Patient Retention Strategies
- Marketing: Marketing is needed to roll out new ideas and campaigns across the organization. It is difficult to retain patients that you don’t have. Put your best foot forward and ensure your marketing is authentic and useful, more than directly promotional. The goal should be to position yourself as a resource in the community, and to cultivate a community of raving fans around your practice. Remember, marketing is a service. The more patients you reach, the more people you can serve. Don’t think it is important? When a person successfully searches online for a practice, it results in a phone call almost 70 percent of the time.
- The telephone: When a patient calls to schedule an appointment, it is always best to have a real person (with a friendly tone and a smile) answer the phone. In some clinics, it may be necessary to have an automated phone system as backup, but a live person is best. The fastest way to send a patient back to Google is to make them leave a message and wait for a return call for something as simple as scheduling an appointment.
- Check-in and waiting: Be sure to greet everyone arriving in your office with an open-ended question, such as “Hi, how may I help you?” Avoid directing them to “sign in and sit down” or “name?” Interactions should prioritize customer service and maximizing patient satisfaction. Also, the receptionist should wait for the patient to respond fully before directing them to “hand over this” and “fill out that.” Take the time to answer patient questions, so that they need to come to the reception desk as few times as possible.
- Practitioner interaction: When patients are called back to the exam room, address them as Ms. or Mr. and their last name. Staff members should make eye contact. These personal touches can put patients at ease. Practitioners should seek to build rapport with the patient, try to optimize communication, and remember to be engaged and treat the whole patient — not just the ailment.
- Follow-up: Following up with your patients after their visit is key. This allows you to assess how your patient is feeling and what they thought about your office. Reach out via phone about three days after a visit to see how the patient is feeling, ensure they were able to understand instructions, and fill needed prescriptions. You may also let them know to expect a follow-up email in which you can ask how your office did overall.
Stronger Differentiation and Brand Loyalty with Patient Retention Tools
Changes to marketing and process alone can’t effectively address patient retention challenges. We believe that technology will be the catalyst for true differentiation and brand loyalty. The simpler the process, the more likely the customer (patient) will return to your facility to receive care.
Adding innovative technologies, like biometric patient identity combined with a smartcard, not only acts as a clear differentiator, but also relays to the patient that their safety is a top priority of the healthcare system. Because they send these messages, patient identification systems act as patient retention tools. This type of system adds technical value, improved competitive advantage and provides a better first impression to the healthcare customer. What better way to highlight an organization’s emphasis on patient safety and quality of care.
For the healthcare system, biometric patient identification enhances retention by strengthening three of the strategies described above.
- Marketing – Once enrolled in the system, the smart card branded to the healthcare system provides a token for customer loyalty. It is a constant reminder to the patient that they are part of a healthcare community with quick and easy access to service.
- Check-In – Biometric verification speeds up the check-in process, improving the patient experience and greatly reducing the risk of duplicate records or billing errors.
- Follow-up: Following up with the patient via phone or e-mail is effective, but providing them with a healthcare identity smart card makes them feel they are a member of your healthcare community. Having that card in their wallet will be a constant reminder of where they get your services.
Retaining patients is a tough problem, but a smart card and biometric patient identity program acts an excellent patient retention tool. Because hospitals who care most about patient safety should be the same organizations that hold onto those patients, Privasent offers the smart card and biometric palm vein scan combination to its participating facilities. The smart card can be branded by the hospital or healthcare group to serve as a loyalty card, marketing material, and an absolute healthcare identity solution for the patient all at once.
In addition to its use as a patient retention tool, the Privasent Absolute Identity solution helps healthcare facilities reduce patient misidentification and record duplication, eliminate identity fraud, and reduce billing errors. To learn more about how the Privasent solution is being used to improve hospitals’ quality of care and financial success, contact our team today for a demo.