How Does Patient Loyalty Affect Your Practice Financially?
Loyal customers are a key part of any revenue-generating business. In fact, a big challenge for many business owners is figuring out how to serve their existing customer base again, rather than putting the dollars and energy into marketing to new potential customers.
Today’s healthcare environment is no different. Patient loyalty can, and does, have a significant impact on your practice’s revenue. Not only do you not have to spend large amounts of your marketing budget to attract them, but you also only have to do your onboarding procedure once (which patients appreciate!).
Once you have an established relationship with a patient and they are loyal to you and your organization, they are much more likely to call your office or sign on to your patient portal when they have a problem, rather than looking for other options. Many patients would rather go to a physician who knows their situation rather than needing to meet and explain themselves to someone new.
Loyal Patients & Revenue
Did you know a patient can have a lifetime value of over a million dollars? The more you can move one-time patients to loyal, long-term patients, the more you can increase your revenue opportunity without increasing your effort too much.
Take a moment and consider: what percentage of your revenue is from repeat patient visits, and what percentage is from new patients?
Unless you’re just getting started, if that new-patient percentage is a significantly higher percentage than repeat patients, it might be time to look at some strategy changes.
Inspiring Patient Loyalty
Sometimes, it might feel like patient loyalty is a far-off goal. Well, think again, because I know you can implement a strategy that will help your patients come back to you year after year.
The key to remember here is that not all patients are alike. Patients prioritize different aspects of their healthcare, which in turns means their loyalty is motivated by different factors. Some people might be loyal because of access to an up-to-date online patient portal or a smooth billing process. Others might be looking for a doctor who offers telehealth and convenience. Or, they could want the complete opposite and prefer an in-person conversation with their doctor.
These intrinsic motivational differences can be understood by identifying a person’s psychographic segment; that is, the group they belong to based on “why” they make the decisions they do about their healthcare choices. When you can understand a person’s motivations, you can begin to cater to them, which in turn increases their satisfaction.
PatientBond has identified five distinct psychographic segments among healthcare consumers:
- Self Achievers: The most health-proactive and wellness oriented, Self Achievers invest the most time and money into their health. Goals, achievement and progress measures are important to this segment, and they are among the most likely to follow physicians’ advice.
- Balance Seekers: Also wellness-oriented, Balance Seekers need choices and options for deciding on a course of action for their health. Highly independent, this segment is less likely to prioritize a physician’s advice.
- Priority Jugglers: Reactive to health issues for themselves but proactive for their family and friends. Priority Jugglers may sacrifice their own wellbeing if it means others get the attention they need. Duty, dedication and commitment are important values to Priority Jugglers.
- Direction Takers: This segment defers to physicians and other healthcare professionals, looking for directive guidance on health issues. It’s important to provide Direction Takers with just a few actionable recommendations that they can incorporate into their daily routine.
- Willful Endurers: This segment lives in the moment and does not address health issues until they absolutely must. Willful Endurers are independent and self-reliant, and any recommendations must be framed in the here-and-now with immediate benefit.
Each psychographic segment requires a different engagement strategy to appeal to their unique motivations. Employing the right engagement strategy leads to higher patient satisfaction.
Satisfied patients are much more likely to be loyal patients. Perhaps equally important, though, is that dissatisfied patients are almost guaranteed to leave a practice when they were disappointed. Moreover, their impact on social media and word-of-mouth can be problematic. Keeping patients satisfied is one of the best ways to improve your retention rate.
Improve Your Communication
Once you understand psychographic segmentation, you can begin to communicate with healthcare consumers in the ways they prefer and that resonate with them. While this can certainly help providers in the exam room, this knowledge is especially important for communicating with patients outside of the office.
A great way to inspire repeat visits is to remind your patients to come back or simply update them on the status of current procedures. Whether that’s for a pediatric physical before the school year starts or so they can get their annual flu shot, many people don’t keep track of these out-of-the-ordinary visits on their own. That’s where you come into play.
By sending a message that is written especially for the busy mom of four who knows she should get her flu shot but doesn’t know when she’ll fit it into her schedule, you can inspire action. She’s likely more concerned about her kids’ health, but if you remind her that she needs to be healthy in order to take care of them, she’s more likely to make an appointment.
PatientBond’s digital engagement platform is designed to send these messages for you across a variety of digital channels (email, SMS/Text messages, Interactive Voice Response, in-app/portal, etc.). It has segment-specific messaging ready for your team to select and send. For instance, Direction Takers and Willful Endurers prefer an immunization reminder the week it’s due, but Self Achievers, Balance Seekers and Priority Jugglers prefer more advance notice. PatientBond uses these data to optimize the send time, frequency and channel for those segments. And if the patient doesn’t respond to the send time, the digital channel it’s sent on or any other preferences, PatientBond adjusts their approach for that patient.
The platform handles follow-up messages in the manner that your patients prefer, which has led to a 40% growth in patient loyalty for some users, as well as an 8:1 financial return on their investment.
Improving patient loyalty has a positive impact on your organization’s market share. Retain the patients you have and improve their loyalty with a digital engagement platform designed to motivate them.
For more on psychographic segmentation and its effect on patient loyalty and market share, download our case study.