Over the years, practicing medicine has changed dramatically. Trying to run your practice the same way doctors did even a decade ago is no longer enough to thrive and grow. You have to adapt, which can mean adopting a new approach to avoid losing valuable patient referrals and reactivations. Refusing to change when the medical world around you does so just leaves you behind. As we like to say at Top Practices, you are “beautifully prepared for a world that no longer exists.”
Lost Referrals and Reactivations Are Lost Revenue
Every single doctor in practice knows that patients are valuable. Medicine exists to help people. If no one is coming to see you for help with a health problem, your practice cannot stay in business. The true value of a single patient, however, isn’t necessarily the same thing as the revenue you gain from an individual appointment. A single patient has the potential to be worth much more if he or she returns just once at any point during his or her life. If that person also refers another individual to your office, his or her value increases again.
If you understand how true this is, then when patients never return to your office or refer others to you, you realize you’re losing revenue. Here’s the problem: people don’t always come back, but not for the reasons you might think. While it’s possible that they chose not to return because they didn’t like you or your practice, in most cases, they’ve just forgotten about you.
Patients Need a Reason to Remember You
People are busy. They have their own families, jobs, and other concerns that they have to worry about. They just don’t have time to think or care about you—unless you can fix a problem they have. That’s the point at which they visit your office. Once you’ve solved their health issue and your patient goes on his or her merry way, though, he or she has no reason to remember you anymore. You resolved the problem, so you no longer have an active role in that patient’s life, unless they need you again in the future. But by that point, if the patient has forgotten you, he or she might just go somewhere else. That’s why so many doctors lose their patient reactivations and referrals.
How You Turn It Around and Get Patients Back
So if your patients only care about you when you can help them, and will probably forget about you when you finish, how do you bring them back later and get them to refer you to others? There are three key words that summarize it best:
Nurture, nurture, nurture.
You have to build a relationship with the people who come to your office. Your best patients already know you, like you, and trust you. They would probably come back or recommend you to others if they could just remember you and—this is key—felt like you care about them. How do you do this? You keep these people on a list and connect with them regularly, providing them with valuable and interesting information.
This is the foundation of the Top Practice’s third of the four pillars of marketing—internal marketing. You use a database to help you connect with your patients both through e-mail and traditional mail methods. You don’t send them sales pitches; you provide information on health topics that will actually interest them. This is where newsletters and book campaigns come into play as well. All of these things work together.
We understand that retaining patient reactivations and referrals is important for doctors. We also understand that there’s a lot more to this to be able to implement it practically than we can cover in a single article. That’s why we have a completely free teleseminar on a CD as well as a downloadable MP3 that goes into much greater detail on this entire topic. Doctors who are already members of the Top Practices Mastermind group can find more information in our members-only library, or connect with our Virtual Marketing Directors, who do all the heavy lifting of this strategy for you. If you have any questions about patient referrals or reactivations, or about our Mastermind group in general, just shoot us an e-mail at [email protected], or call us at (717) 725-2679.