Quick Strategies for Maximizing Service to Existing Patients

December 19, 2013
Audrey Mclaughlin, RN

It's nine times more expensive to acquire new patients than it is to retain the current ones. A few ways to ensure you'll keep yours.

Have you ever heard that it is nine times more expensive to acquire new patients than it is to retain the current ones? It is. And even more so, when you consider that retaining your current patients can lead to new patients in the form of referrals of friends and family members.

So you may be wondering, how can I maximize each patient that comes through my door? In the simplest terms, know where they come from, maximize revenue in the office, turn your patients into raving fans, and take great care of your referral sources.

Start with finding out where your new patient comes from. When a patient is calling in for an appointment, part of the dialogue should include, "how did you hear about us?" or "who may we thank for your referral?" This information should be tracked in your EHR or even manually if you have not converted to an EHR at this time. 

Make sure your staff members are trained to find out, specifically, where each patient comes from.

Once you know where your patients are coming from, you now have a compass to point you in the direction of where to continue to push and maximize marketing and where you need rethink your strategy or begin a new strategy.  

These patients need to be "wowed" with amazing service once they get there. Excel in customer service with a simple and smooth billing process, great bedside manner, and phenomenal follow-through. This will set your patients well on their way to becoming raving fans.

Another way to "wow" your patients is by providing top-of-the-line ancillary services to maximize their time with you. Providing top-of-the-line services can also maximize your profit margins. Patients don't want to be referred out for simple tests that could reasonably be handled by your office; consider providing patient-centered services to help retain the patients you have already attracted to your practice.

Next, make sure you take care of your patient referral sources. Send handwritten thank-you cards to physicians or patients for the first couple of referrals. For regularly referring physicians, you may progress to a small periodic gift after several subsequent referrals or around the holidays. I am not suggesting you pay for referrals, I am suggesting a simple, very inexpensive gift such as a branded coffee mug filled with chocolates or branded pens and sticky notes.

When colleagues refer patients, a physician-to-physician call may be in order. This is especially helpful for any special referrals, a large-volume referrer, or for any test results that are concerning. You may even host a gathering or open house to thank referral sources for sending patients your way.

And finally, consider gathering a testimonial or asking some of your favorite patients to review your clinic, staff, and providers … I have said it before and I have said it again: People buy people buy from people and medicine is no different.

How are you going to maximize service to your current patients?