Patient appreciation should be an intrinsic part of your practice’s marketing plan. Why? Because it’s valuable to patients and critical to your bottom line.
For example, of patients who opt to switch practices, 70 percent of them leave because they don’t feel they are appreciated. And don’t forget, it can cost five times more to attract a new patient than it does to retain an existing one. One study even found that raising customer retention rates by five percent increases profits by 25 to 95 percent.
And because you’ve already cultivated a relationship with your patients, giving them some added value and attention will help you solidify and build upon their loyalty for increased retention.
Here’s 10 creative yet convincing ways to show some love for your patients. The first is a special day set aside just for them while 2–10 are fantastic ideas for an appreciation week, month, or just any time to delight your patients.
Idea No. 1: Host a Patient Appreciation Day
Though National Patient Appreciation Day is officially August 11, any day you choose is the right time to create closer ties by showing a bit more of you and your staff’s personal side.
For this, you’ll host an event at your practice and invite patients to attend. Here are some tried and true activities:
- Offer free health screenings
- Give demonstrations or information on a new medical procedure
- Present a mini-class (in-office and/or webinar) on a given health topic by a practitioner or health educator
- Have door prizes and practice swag giveaways
- Encourage patients to bring a friend and get a free gift or discounted service
- Plan a “Get-to-know-our-staff” day where current and prospective patients can meet your practitioners, ask basic health questions, and learn more about your services.
You’ll need to communicate and promote the event ahead of time and also find ways to celebrate patients who can’t join you in-office.
9 Patient Appreciation Ideas for Anytime
- Offer anniversary discounts. Seventy-five percent of customers favor companies that offer rewards. Incentives like anniversary discounts are the perfect way to thank patients for their loyalty. For example, promote a $50 discount at patients’ 5-year mark and a $75 discount at patients’ 10-year mark for a cleaning, eye exam, or checkup or credit the amount toward their balance due. People love to save on their healthcare while the appointments will help you fill your schedule.
- Send personalized birthday messages. Don’t forget to wish your patients Happy Birthday! You might be surprised that this would have an impact but it really does. Leading patient relationship management (PRM) platforms allow practices to easily automate personalized birthday greetings to patients via text, email or voice. It’s a simple and seamless way to show patients you care while bolstering the provider-patient relationship.
- Present coupons for specific services. If you’re promoting a special patient appreciation week or month, engage with patients by sending them special officers like discounts off your services. Deliver coupons such as $25 off their next dental cleaning, eye exam, or health screening in practice marketing messages or e-newsletters. Patients will value your efforts to thank them while also getting in for needed routine care.
- Give referrals a free service. Over 70 percent of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand if it has a good loyalty program. People love to do favors for friends, family, and acquaintances, especially when they have a great relationship with the practice. When a patient refers someone to your practice, reward the new patient with a free introductory service. That new patient will be more likely to “pay it forward” to their friend for recommending a trusted care partner. You’ll empower your patients while giving your acquisition efforts a bump.
- Host a family-friendly event or service. Parents with busy schedules appreciate the convenience and economy of being able to get care for their kids and spouse all in one go. If you’re a physician's office or pediatric practice, offer a seasonal drive-thru flu shot clinic. If you're a vision or eye practice, invite patients to schedule their entire family to get annual eye exams or 6-month dental cleanings all together in back-to-back or simultaneous appointments. Your patients will appreciate not having to make separate trips and you’ll be able to fill your schedule and increase revenue.
- Offer an ASAP wait list to loyal patients to fill last-minute vacancies. Forty-eight percent of people expect specialized treatment for being a good customer. Just like airline passengers collect frequent-flyer miles for their trips, you can thank your patients for their loyalty by offering to put them at the top of your ASAP wait lists. They’ll be grateful for the chance to get in sooner for an appointment and you’ll fill your schedule and recoup what otherwise might be lost revenue by filling cancelled slots.
- Engage with your patients on social media. We get it. Your patients lead busy lives and can’t make it into the office for your Patient Appreciation Day. Reach greater numbers of your patients by holding virtual events such as raffles or prize giveaways on your Facebook or Twitter channels. Celebrate your patients’ individual achievements, share info about timely health topics or practice changes, and spotlight practitioners on your social media. It’s a win-win because your patients will like and share your posts and Tweets, and you’ll be able to promote your practice in cyberspace, increase your social media traffic, and expand your online presence.
- Give out free merch. When organizations give out freebies, 83 percent of consumers are more likely to give them more business and nine in 10 will remember the name and logo on the swag. When patients are finishing an appointment, offer a useful item that also promotes and advertises your practice. Silicone wristbands or a coloring book for kids, and a calendar, pen, or refrigerator magnet for adults are just a few ideas. These types of items are an effective way to remind patients to stay on top of their care, get your practice brand noticed, and keep your practice contact information handy.
- Hook patients up with free healthy snacks. Everybody loves to get free food. During your patient appreciation week or month, give out healthy treats like dried fruit, trail mix, or water bottles before or after appointments. Your patients will be grateful for the kind gesture and you’ll be able to encourage healthier eating habits while leaving them with a positive impression of their visit.
Develop Your Own Patient Appreciation Program
Rather than approaching your patient appreciation activities haphazardly, it’s important to outline, organize and put into action a well-organized program that you can plan, execute, measure, and then regularly adjust. Key elements should include:
- Design and implement: Brainstorm what types of activities and events you think will be beneficial to your patients and practice. Research and determine what funding, resources (including personnel), and materials will be needed. Determine action items and who will be responsible for each assignment.
- Launch and promote: Calendar your activities and be sure to promote them through your practice’s website, patient portal, social media, in-office signage, and group text messages. Get your event listed on pertinent social media community calendars.
- Analyze and improve: The best tool to track your patients’ overall satisfaction, including your appreciation efforts, is through customized patient surveys. You can create your own questionnaires or use proven Net Promoter Score surveys. Since 91 percent of people prefer digital surveys, it’s best to send messages with links to the survey for higher completion rates. Get feedback on a specific event or activity by sending targeted patient surveys in a group text message to those who attended.
Your steps to deliver fun and rewarding but also valuable appreciation activities will captivate and impress your patients. They’ll also give your practice an added advantage in improving patient experience, creating stronger relationships, and winning over your patients. Don’t miss out on adding these opportunities to your marketing playbook to promote your practice and reinforce retention.
To learn more about how to retain existing patients while attracting new ones to your practice, check out the guide, "Discover the Secret Sauce of Patient Satisfaction." Show your patients that you care by delivering a more patient-centric appointment experience.