One of the biggest challenges for any healthcare organization, telemedicine practice, or mental health clinic is patient retention and reactivation. Patient reactivation should be part of your comprehensive marketing strategy, but it often takes a backseat to efforts focused on attracting new patients.
While attracting new patients is vital to the success of any healthcare system, retaining your current patients is just as important. In fact, it typically costs less to keep your current patients than it does to attract new ones. Research shows that depending on the industry, it could cost anywhere from five to 25 times more to acquire a new patient than it does to reactivate and retain your current ones.
You can apply these numbers to your healthcare organization to get an idea of how you may need to adjust your marketing for maximum return on investment. You may also want to consider if you are placing enough emphasis and dollars on your reactivation strategies.
All too often, when you think of growing your practice and increasing income, you focus on spending your marketing budget to attract new patients. While you absolutely want to continue doing that, you also want to allocate a portion of your budget to retaining and reactivating current and past patients who’ve fallen off the radar, or those who have been inconsistent with follow-up care and preventive checkups.
Additionally, if you’re highly successful at attracting new patients to your practice, but you aren’t great at retaining them, you’re wasting more marketing funds than you realize. If that is the case with your healthcare organization, you’re getting new patients in the door, but not giving them enough reasons to keep up with their prescribed care.
How do you reactivate old patients and retain new ones?
In other articles, we’ve talked about the importance of creating an outstanding patient experience, keeping patients engaged, and why it’s essential to do so—especially in today’s digital age and telehealth environment. It may be a bit more challenging to build relationships virtually than in person, but that’s where technology comes in. Make it work for you in that regard.
Automated text messages, online scheduling, and HIPAA-compliant patient relationship management software make it possible for you to build and improve patient relationships. And, it allows you to ask patients for valuable feedback as to why they left your practice or didn’t make it a priority to schedule follow-up care.
Consider the following questions you may want to ask patients through an automated survey that you email or send a link via text:
- Are you happy with the care you received?
- Do you find our telehealth platform hard to use or difficult to navigate?
- Did you have a less-than-wonderful experience when you:
- Visited our office?
- Completed online forms?
- Called to speak with someone?
- Tried to schedule an appointment?
It’s important to discover why patients go missing so you and your team can take action to remedy the situation, or at the very least, identify areas that need improvement. If you notice a pattern of grievances, such as difficulty scheduling an appointment online, or lack of communication via text messaging, you can address these issues internally and focus on creating a positive experience for every patient.
Once you’re confident the majority of your patients are having a good experience through communication with your healthcare organization, and as a result of the expert services they receive, it will be easier to reactivate patients who’ve slipped away.
Tips for reactivating patients
Realizing what might be keeping patients from rescheduling means you are now armed with information and can take action to address these issues. Here are some proven ways to reactivate patients and get them back on your schedule to get you started:
Send text and email appointment reminders
Your patient relationship management system should allow you to easily send automated appointment reminders to motivate patients to schedule a new appointment or show up for the next scheduled session. Create and send personalized reminders to keep patients engaged between appointments, such as, “Hi Sam. We look forward to seeing you next week. Until then, here’s an article you might find interesting about [relevant health topic].”
Send encouragement reminders
If it’s been a while since you’ve last seen a patient, or for missed appointments, send a text or email that says, “Hi Sam. Consistent care is important for your overall well-being. We haven’t seen you in 6 months. Click here to schedule your next appointment,” or “We’re sorry you missed your last virtual counseling session. Click to get back on the schedule and continue on your path to healing.”
Send e-newsletters full of educational content
At one point in time, your former patients took an active role in their healthcare concerns, so consider them a willing audience. Perhaps they need some educational content related to a specific condition to help motivate them to schedule beneficial care once again.
Educational newsletter content is of value to nearly anyone searching for answers online. Anticipate the need and proactively supply relevant content to patients’ in-boxes. They’ll come to value your practitioners as trusted resources on all things related to their health conditions, and therefore, be more likely to reactivate care.
Take your newsletter content one step further with monthly campaigns. Perhaps you focus on diabetes content for diabetes awareness month, or women’s health issues during breast cancer awareness month. Diet and exercise tips are great campaigns for the summer months.
From a healthcare marketing perspective, educational content may also help you improve email open rates. Patients will look forward to receiving updates from your practice and providers because they know that you send valuable information, not just discounts or special offers (although, those are good for patient reactivation, too!).
Occasionally, offer time-sensitive special promotions
As I alluded to in the paragraph above, you don’t want to bombard patients with emails and text communications that are too salesy. But, an occasional special offer or promotion creates a sense of urgency to motivate patients to reactivate a care plan or schedule that follow-up they’ve been putting off.
Patient reactivation can have a positive impact on your healthcare business bottom line. Letting current patients disengage means they’ll likely search for another provider next time they need the services you offer. Don’t leave that money on the table. Implement some of these patient reactivation strategies to get your business and your patients back on track.