When you are looking to grow a medical surgery, whether you are involved with a clinic that manages diabetes or skin, it is worth considering not only how you can get more patients to attend your clinic but also how you can get them to come back too.
Remember, a successful medical surgery needs patients that are happy and a medical team who knows their patients well enough to form a successful relationship with them. This is known as patient retention, and it can only be accomplished in the same way as any other form of retention, with positive experiences for those who are using the service.
It is worth noting that simply providing high-quality medical care is not all you need to do to retain patients, and you and your team will need to create a proactive approach to keep your patients returning to your surgery or practice rather than leaving to attend what one of your competitors can offer.
So, with that in mind, here are some top tips on how you can retain medical patients.
Suppose you run a dental surgery; it’s likely that you will have a hard time getting people to attend appointments as it is, without the additional hassle of needing to wait for your receptionist team to fight with the software to book the appointment.
Even if you are a dermatologist, you will want to ensure that your patients and your staff can book appointments without hassle. If there are currently issues with your scheduling software, it is likely that it is going to cost you appointments in the long term.
Most clinical practices are now able to offer their patients the ability to book appointments online, as well as being able to change or manage these appointments. In most cases, the apps and software needed are downloadable to smartphones, meaning that all your patients will need to do is click a button to alter or book an appointment. Easy and a great way to retain patients.
It’s worth noting here that you will need to ensure that the software and programs that you download are designed for booking medical-based appointments, such as Brevium which is a medical scheduling software that you can download and use with ease. That way, the days and appointments that you have available will be based on pre-set length times, such as 10 minutes for a general medical appointment, or 30 minutes for a specific assessment type.
Most clinical surgeries are now able to also send emails and text messages to their patient’s phones confirming an appointment. This is simple and extremely effective. In some cases, depending on the software that you choose for your surgery, you will also be able to send reminder messages the day before the appointment is due to occur, so your patients will be more likely to attend.
These kinds of messages also provide you with the opportunity to thank your patients for their custom in choosing your team. This will help them to feel more like a person than a simple patient number and has once again been found to help with long-term retention.
Even the NHS in the UK has websites for different departments, depending on which hospital you may be visiting.
And yes, having a professional and attractive website can help with patient retention. For one thing, it can help patients to see what you offer, allowing them to choose you and your team out of a potential line-up of professionals. It will also help them to locate where you are based, so they can plan how long it will take them to get to your surgery or clinic. It is also essential that you have a website of any kind that you display clearly when your opening hours are so that your patients can decide how hard or easy it will be to fit an appointment with your team into their daily lifestyle.
Also, it’s worth noting that many people are not big fans of medical appointments and having a website that shows your team alongside brief bios will go a long way toward retaining and attracting nervous patients.
The TV show House makes for a good medical drama/comedy. But the reality is that if any medical professional acted like him, they would not have a successful practice and would likely be on the receiving end of a lot of lawsuits!
Your patients are an essential part of your practice, and you need to treat them with respect. So, it’s worth brushing up and focusing on the patient experience when they attend your clinic or practice. Be sure to answer any questions that they may have and try to keep your appointments running on time. You will be amazed at how often delayed appointments result in patients leaving a clinic or practice and going elsewhere, which is not ideal for patient retention.
Being nice is easier than it sounds though for a lot of clinicians, so it can be worth investing in staff training in this area to keep your surgery or clinic ticking over and attract patients who will stay with you.
Return Phone Calls
On a busy day, your surgery will have its phones ringing a lot, which is what you want! But this can mean that some calls get missed and may roll over to voicemail. This can be frustrating if the patient who is on the other end is calling to inform your team that they are running a bit late. So, always be sure to pick up the phones as often as you can and be sure to return calls as and when you said you would. If a patient has called you because they need emergency treatment and they are not called back, that is not going to leave them feeling good about your practice, and can actually prolong their discomfort, which is not acceptable in the medical industry.
Always aim to train your reception staff in a good bedside manner when answering the phones, too, as having a grumpy team answering your phone is not going to do your clinic any good in the long term.
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