5 Ways Practices Can Increase Patient Loyalty
Most practices know that if you want to build a successful practice, the patient experience is one of your most important focuses. Research shows that 12% to 15% of patients who are loyal to a single practice represent 55% to 70% of appointments. The patient relationship is key, but how can you foster greater loyalty in your organization?
Loyalty starts with understanding your patients’ needs, finding tools and resources to match those needs, and building engagement strategies that keep people coming back for more. Once you have explored as many patient retention ideas as possible, it’s time to begin implementing the right tools and strategies to make achieving the goal of loyalty much easier and enable you to serve more patients with greater success.
- Discuss the cost of service up front
The cost of care is a large pain point for patients. More patients have high-deductible insurance plans, and affordability is a major concern. A survey found that 76% of patients surveyed felt it was important to discuss the cost of care with their doctors, yet 21% reported they received some, little or no information during a visit.
Providing up-front, accurate patient care estimates allows you to discuss the cost of service and how to pay for it early in the process. For example, ClearGage’s Patient Estimate Solution allows you to provide an accurate assessment of your patients’ out-of-pocket expenses before the appointment. Real-time data is leveraged based on the patients’ specific benefit plans and payer fee schedules, and you can provide patients with price transparency and flexible payment options if needed. This transparent process allows you to empower patients with the information required to make better decisions about paying for care.
- Offer patient tools to pay for care
About one in four U.S. adults report they or a household member have had difficulty paying for medical bills in the past year, and 12% report it had a major effect on their families. Patient financing allows you to close this gap and give patients access to the care they need most.
After discussing the cost of care and treatment, patients view the cost on their mobile devices and set up a flexible and personalized payment plan. On the practice side of the business, you get paid faster, and with some programs, such as ClearGage’s ClearFund, you can get paid up front on receivables.
- Empower patients with digital payment options
Patients are paying for products and services using digital payment options, and they expect that same convenience from their healthcare leaders. Auto bill technology can allow practices to securely store patient payment information with the patient’s consent and use it to automate future payments. This process offers a level of convenience to the patient that wasn’t available in the past and fosters consumer loyalty and satisfaction.
Additionally, faster payment options can allow people to pay bills from their smartphones or tablets. For example, ClearGage offers QuickPay, which allows you to send a customized text or email message with a link to our mobile-friendly solution in which patients are presented with the option to pay now or enroll in a facility-approved payment plan.
- Create a patient engagement strategy
Most patients aren’t engaged with their medical practices. On average, healthcare leaders believe only 34% of patients are highly engaged, which leaves a large area for improvement for new and existing patients.
A patient engagement platform allows you to nurture relationships at critical touch points throughout the patient journey. When connecting with patients, you can start by using their preferred communication type, whether it’s text, email or speaking with a live person. You can also automate patient engagement by delivering specific messages at critical touchpoints. This is key to delivering automated customer service that will lend to a better experience for the patient. A patient may have visited your office but hasn’t paid their bill yet. As a healthcare provider, you can send them a critically timed message reminding them of the balance due but also offering helpful resources to set up a payment plan if needed to spread that balance out over a longer payment term.
- Keep the conversation open with patients
Customer feedback is a critical tool to helping your practice thrive into the future. Through patient satisfaction surveys, you can understand patients’ largest pain points and put the necessary tools in place to help navigate those challenges.
Consider implementing patient satisfaction questionnaires or surveys as a channel of patient feedback to help find opportunities for improvement. Also, considering communicating with patients to better understand their perspective by asking them to review you and your staff online. This will help build positive word of mouth and assist with opening your doors to more patients, including those who don’t think they can afford care.
Moving into the future
Practices earn loyalty by doing an excellent job serving patients, listening to their biggest concerns, and providing them with the health care and resources required to stay healthy. Creating a strategy that is focused around fostering patient loyalty enables you to organically grow your practice, build more loyalty with patients, and create an environment that enables employees to serve patients with greater effectiveness.