There are two ways to grow your medical practice. The first is to acquire new patients. The second is to retain your existing patients.
More online traffic to your practice website is not the solution. It is just the beginning.
More visitors on your website means more opportunities for someone to schedule an appointment at your office. However, this is not always true. Because the truth is you can get all the online traffic you want, but it may not be the right kind of traffic. You may have on your website is a bunch of random visitors. If they are not ready to engage with your services, it is just a waste of everybody’s time.
The “Secret” is Out
If you ask any practice owner what their business goal is, she will tell you “to acquire more patients.” The more leads you turn into patients, the more profitable your practice will be, right? No. It is not only cost-effective to cross-sell or upsell to current patients, it is also easier and more profitable. In fact, loyal patients are up to 65 percent easier to sell to than new patients. So if your business goal is to increase your bottom line, the right answer should be “to retain existing patients” not “to attract new patients.”
The reality is you can get all the traffic you want, but you have to invest time and money in setting it up. Once it is working, you can modify it to suit your business goals. But there is a secret formula to increase your practice’s bottom line: Enhance your patients’ lifetime value.
A patient lifetime value is the expected amount of revenue a patient will generate over their lifetime at your practice. If you want your patient lifetime value to be high, do not focus on attracting new patients who come once and never come back again. Loyal patients are where the most of your revenue is. It is important to focus on retaining your patients and increase the patient lifetime value.
The simple reason that most health care marketers and practice owners fail at promoting their practice is that they do not understand what a patient is worth. Some patients may only come to your office once. But in most growing practices, some patients visit multiple times. Your patients will come back to your practice only if you are doing an excellent job at making them happy. This is known as your patient lifetime value, and the main driver to a successful practice.
Maximizing Patient Lifetime Value
Here are some of the proven strategies to increase your patients’ lifetime value and improve your profitability.
1. Know Your Patients: Your loyal patients can provide a reliable source of data that you can use to improve your service offerings. You can conduct surveys of your patients to learn about the personas that your practice interacts with the most. Patient analytics can help your practice identify appointment trends. Your practice can use patient information to direct its marketing activities and improve services to better appeal to existing and potential patients. Medical practices that have successfully portrayed their patients through persona marketing noticed a significant improvement in their marketing performance and the bottom line.
2. Personalize Patient Experience: Personalization can significantly increase the profitability of your practice and longevity of each patient. This is fast becoming the norm in many practices as health care marketers realize the importance of personalizing their services according to the needs and demands of their patient personas. It is amazing how reaching out to your target audience - not to sell your services but to connect - can strengthen your relationship with your patients. Sending a personal thank you message, offering a special deal or investing a few dollars in pleasing your patients will play a big role in enhancing patients’ experience.
3. Communicate Effectively: Social networks and e-mail are effective ways to communicate with your existing and potential patients. You can use both to keep your patients abreast of news and any special offers you might have. According to research, nearly 44 percent of patients prefer email to other communication channels. However, you need to compete for a fair share of patients’ attention, so make sure you have a strong and engaging online presence. A strong online presence will also help you build a community around your practice. By interacting with your potential patients, whether by sharing useful information or responding to their online feedback, you can show you value their business.
4. Offer Rewards: The simplest way to keep patients coming back to your practice is to reward loyalty. You can offer discount coupons, freebies, a deal of the month, or bundled services depending on the needs and preferences of your target patients. A reward system can play an integral role in building brand loyalty. According to a study, a five percent increase in patient retention can translate into more than a 25 percent increase in profits. In addition, practices that combine patient analytics with an effective retention approach notice nine times greater patient loyalty.
5. Provide Exceptional Service: Providing best-in-class patient service is a critical factor in retaining patients. If your service is not satisfactory, patients will defect to competitors even if your pricing is competitive. More than two-thirds of patients are likely to end the relationship with a clinician after a bad service experience. Good patient service is more than just a friendly staff on the phone or a long consultation session. It includes looking for ways to delight your patients as well as addressing their concerns.
Ultimately, growing your patient lifetime value involves a lot of brainstorming and crunching the numbers to see what strategies are delivering results. For some medical practices, upselling and cross-selling are the most effective ways to increase patient lifetime value, and for others, a loyalty reward program works wonders. Make sure to weigh all your options and measure your performance so that you are operating on proven ROI and not on wishful thinking.
If patient lifetime value is not your top marketing priority, you are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to grow revenue and profitably. It is essential to focus not only on improving your patient retention rate but also maximizing it.