A Dynamic Chiropractic poll recently asked how often chiropractors contacted patients who hadn’t visited their practice in 6 months or more. About 38% of respondents said “never.” Do you belong in this category? If so, you’ll need to revamp your patient retention efforts. Simply put, if you’re focusing on attracting new patients, yet have a tough time retaining existing patients, you’ll lose patients faster than you can possibly acquire them.
Patient retention is a crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy and thriving practice. Retaining a higher percentage of your existing patients also means that you don’t need to invest as much time (and money) into new patient acquisition efforts. However, it’s not always immediately obvious how you can improve patient retention. Identifying and acting on just a few missed opportunities can help ensure that you don’t let patients needlessly slip through the cracks.
In this article, we’ll discuss how chiropractic practices can solve specific problems in order to increase their patient retention rate.
Problem: I’ve lost touch with a large number of former patients. How late is too late to reach out?
No matter how long it’s been since a patient has completed their treatment plan, it doesn’t hurt to stay in touch with them so that they remember you the next time they have a need for chiropractic care. Whether you keep in touch by sending email newsletters or by mailing out postcards, make sure that your tone is friendly, cordial, and helpful -- your efforts will pay off in the long run. Chiropractic practice management software can help track how long it’s been since each patient has been in for an appointment. You can then plan a way to check in with patients after you haven’t heard from them in a couple of months. You never know if a simple phone call or holiday card will be the small gesture that convinces a long-dormant patient to book an appointment.
Problem: The patient isn’t insured, or has already used the amount of care covered under their insurance.
More and more chiropractors are offering membership options for their patients -- not only for uninsured patients, but also for those who want to get consistent chiropractic treatment beyond what’s allowed by insurance. Setting up a membership option for your patients can help encourage them to keep coming in for treatment. It will also save you the overhead that comes along with accepting various insurance providers, including paperwork and claims. If you set up an insurance-free membership option, you’ll get to keep more of what you bill, with less administrative work.
Memberships also encourage your patients to think of chiropractic care as a lifelong wellness investment, rather than a short-term solution to a temporary problem. Like a fitness gym membership, your patients will come to value coming in on a regular basis, generating revenue, and possibly even referring new patients to your practice.
Problem: Patients aren’t coming back after their first appointment, or they aren’t completing every appointment in their treatment plan.
It’s important to account for the possibility that your patients simply didn’t know (or forgot) that you expected them to come back for a follow-up appointment. To prevent this from happening, you need to clearly communicate your proposed treatment plans to patients, and implement systems to increase the likelihood that each patient will book and show up for their next appointment.
Before you end each patient’s appointment, make sure that the patient is aware that they need to book their next appointment in X amount of time, as the next step of their treatment plan. Throw out a date that they think would work, and write it down on a slip of paper or an appointment reminder card, so that they can pass it along to your front desk. Train your staff to schedule each patient’s next appointment (based on their appropriate treatment plan) before they leave the office, in a firm but friendly manner. Once you’ve scheduled each patient for their next appointment, your practice management software or patient communication software, such as Solutionreach can help take care of the rest. Make sure that you capitalize on features like automatic appointment reminders via phone call, email, or text message, to reduce the rate of cancellations and no-shows. And if your PMS supports online appointment booking, send out email reminders to as-of-yet unscheduled patients to encourage them to book their next appointment, and include a link to your online booking platform.