Why is Patient Retention so Important?
Patient retention might not have been so hard in the past. There were fewer doctors and therapists as well as more distance between practices. This made it much more difficult for patients to make a change in their medical provider. But now with an estimated 38,800 physical therapy clinics in the U.S., the competition is fierce and many offices are facing a decrease in patient retention.
There is no single reason why patients decide to leave or switch offices. Luckily, many of the main reasons patients cite for abandoning a physical therapy office are things you can control. Some of the main ways to improve patient retention include:
- Building relationships with patients
- Setting expectations for patient progress
- Consistent communication
- Establishing and maintaining credibility
If you are looking to give your patient retention a boost, improving the aspects listed above will have a dramatic effect. Let’s take a look at how to progress in these four areas.
Build Personal Relationships
When a patient feels valued, they not only will continue treatment but will be happy to do so. We all enjoy going to places where we feel welcomed and important. A poll conducted for FMAHealth found that 89% of Americans find it important to have a relationship with their doctor or therapist.
Improving patient retention by building a relationship can be as simple as remembering to ask about their family or the concerns they had at their last appointment. Taking the time to show interest in your patients can make a significant impact on patient retention. However, for most, it is not realistic to remember these details about every single patient because of the volume of patients seen on any given day.
So what is the solution?
The solution to this patient retention problem is putting the right practice management system in place. This will allow you to pull up patient information much faster. Having patient history available at the click of a button will help your staff and will give your patients the best experience possible.
Set Expectations for Patient Progress
Many things might contribute to a decrease in patient retention. One of the main reasons patients leave goes back to the reason they came in the first place. Every patient first came to your office to improve their current physical state. It is no surprise that one of the main reasons why offices see a decrease in patient retention is due to lack of progress. When a patient does not see that their physical therapy is helping them improve, they become frustrated and discouraged.
There are a lot of factors that go into patient retention but a big one is seeing improvement. The best way for patients to see this improvement is by completing treatment. When a patient is at your office, you have control over their exercises and treatment. But that is just one piece of the puzzle. A patient’s home exercise program plays a large role in treatment progress. Many would argue that a patient’s HEP or home exercise program is vital in seeing improvement.
Despite the importance, many patients do not complete their home exercise programs. Studies show that only 35% of patients complete their home exercise programs in a correct and consistent manner.
So what can you do to motivate your patients to complete their home exercises?
Some of the main reasons patients fail to complete their exercises are lack of education, pain due to incorrect form, and lack of motivation. The good news is these are all things your office can help with.
By giving your patients access to educational material you help them understand the purpose of completing their exercises. Providing these educational materials will also allow patients to complete the exercises with better form and less pain. Consistently communicating with your patients can give them the motivation they need and can improve patient retention.
Practice management systems can also be helpful in this process and in increasing patient retention. You can easily keep track of goals and exercises through these systems. When you can give your patients consistent answers about their goals and exercises, they will feel valued and educated.
Improve your Patient Communication for Better Patient Retention
Quick response time also can have a big impact on satisfaction and increased patient retention. There is nothing worse than calling the doctor’s office multiple times only to be sent to voicemail. While answering the phone is the easiest solution to this problem, it is not that simple. First, you need to free up time for your front office staff.
Using an all-in-one EMR software will save your front office time and provide patients with many different ways to contact you.
These systems allow patients to schedule appointments online or even by text. This will give your front office staff the time they need to answer the phone for patients who have more complex questions. When your front office staff has time to discuss important questions with patients, it will lead to improved patient satisfaction and patient retention.
Another important aspect of patient communication is providing multiple different options. With so many new ways to communicate, every person will have a different favorite. Some prefer to be contacted by text, some by email, and some through an old-fashioned phone call.
When a patient can see that your office cares enough to provide them with the option they prefer, they are much more likely to stay. Going this extra step is not something that many practices do. This makes it just that much more impactful on patient retention.
Establish and Maintain Credibility
Building credibility with your patients can come in many different forms. Online reviews, firsthand experiences, and word of mouth. As soon as a patient walks in the door they are likely to have questions. Often times those questions are similar among patients. Providing answers to their questions or even providing a FAQ sheet can lead to higher patient retention.
By establishing a reputation of constant communication and care, patients are much more likely to be confident in your office’s ability to help. According to an AOA survey, over half of consumers report that they go to friends or family for information when trying to find a physician. This shows just how much patient retention can be affected by building relationships.
One aspect of patient retention and relationship building that many do not often think of is keeping up with the latest technology. This can surprisingly play a role in patient retention as well. Patients find doctors more credible when they are technologically savvy and provide them with digital options throughout the treatment process.
Takeaways on Patient Retention
There is no one factor alone that will completely transform your patient retention. When you put together all of the strategies listed above, you will certainly see a transformation in your office and your patient retention. While the growing number of therapy offices can be daunting, being knowledgeable about the strategies that boost patient retention already puts you ahead of the curve.
By simply building relationships with patients, setting expectations, communicating often, and maintaining credibility, you will see an increase in patients staying at your practice. While there are many ways to successfully do these things, having an all-in-one practice management software makes it just that much easier.
Follow the link to see how PatientStudio can help improve your patient retention today.