Though it’s happened gradually, your patients aren’t the same people they were even just a few years ago. That’s because the way they want to interact with you for their healthcare has continued to change.
Two major forces—the disruptions of the pandemic era and patients becoming more like consumers—mean the nature of today’s patient has evolved. Just like in the retail world, most patients want to be able to easily connect with practices through texting at every stage of their care journey—without ever having to make a phone call or listen to a voicemail.
If it’s not fast, convenient and personalized, they don’t want it—and the effects may be showing in your patient retention figures. In a 2021 poll, more than one-third of patients said they’d be willing to switch practices to get more modern communication like text messaging.
Your patients don’t just want quality care—they expect to be able to easily connect with you for a more seamless healthcare journey, from booking an appointment to scheduling follow-up visits and making payment. Clear and effective communication creates happier patients who are more likely to be loyal to your practice and boost patient retention.
But Rome wasn’t built in a day. There are incremental changes you can make to help ensure you’re delivering the kind of individualized experience your patients are looking for. These suggestions can help you build relationships with patients that increase loyalty and minimize the chances they will look elsewhere for care.
- Send automated appointment reminders: Just like you, patients lead busy lives and are more apt to forget an appointment if they don’t get several reminders. Automated appointment reminders sent at a proven cadence have been shown to increase confirmations by 156 percent. To make sure patients are getting reminders in the format that works best for them—text, email or voice—be sure to update patients’ communication preferences in digital intake forms or by asking them at check-in.
- Offer texting and real-time two way texting: The easiest way to please your patients is to allow them to communicate with you the way they would with anyone else—through text messaging. It’s fast, easy, and convenient, and it’s the way most patients want to interact with their practice. Nearly 80 percent of patients say they want to receive texts from their healthcare practices. Taking it a step further, practices that offer real-time two-way texting offer patients the ability to ask questions or cancel and reschedule without ever having to make a phone call. Texting equals happier, more satisfied patients!
- Send automated patient e-newsletters: Patients want to be kept informed about changes to your practice, timely health information, and when new providers join your team. Monthly e-newsletters help you keep patients up to speed on important news while also allowing you to market your practice. You can also include links for patients to share referrals or ask them to give your practice an online review, which helps build your online reputation and grow your practice.
- Use automated patient surveys: Patient surveys allow you to collect valuable feedback about your practice and its providers that you can use to make improvements that build patient satisfaction. Automatically sending out surveys after appointments also gets you higher completion rates and lets patients know you value their insights. You can redirect happy patients who give you high survey scores by texting them a link to give your practice an online review which raises your online presence and helps attract new patients.
- Don’t forget birthdays!: Everybody likes to be remembered on their special day. A modern patient engagement platform allows you to automatically text or email every patient a personalized birthday greeting and helps market your practice.
Of course, there’s plenty of other ways for you to build patient loyalty. But using modern tools to communicate with patients the way they prefer is a great place to start. By making interaction easier and more effortless, you’ll engender the trust and appreciation of patients who want to avoid being bothered by phone calls and voicemails. Practices that offer modern ways to interact with you quicker and more conveniently will have a distinct competitive advantage over the other practices in town.
To learn more about how you better position your practice to get better online reviews that attract new patients, check out the guide, “Online Reputation Management: Why It's Essential for Your Practice.”