You want, and even need, your patients to return to you. No doctor can afford to have single consultations with patients and then never see them again. That doesn’t allow you to provide the best care and sharply cuts into your bottom line. The question becomes, then, how do you make sure your patients come back to you instead of going to competitors? Insuring that your patients return is as much about your practice marketing and using your list as it is the patient experience in your office.
Why Patients Switch Doctors
Patients end up going to other doctors for many different reasons. It could be they didn’t get along well with you, or had a bad experience with your staff. It could be that your office does not accept their insurance and they can’t afford their visit. It could be that your office is too far away. For many patients, however, the reason they switch is much simpler: they’ve forgotten about you.
It’s true, you and your staff need to do your absolute best to make sure every patient is treated well in a timely manner, and leaves feeling his or her questions were answered and all problems were addressed. This is a crucial aspect of building a relationship with your patients and getting them to return to you. Assuming you do all of that and your patients like and trust you, though, this does not guarantee they won’t switch podiatrists. Unless they have a reason to remember you, they will be too busy with other concerns to remember your name once their problems have been solved.
People are busy. They have dozens of other things to worry about in their lives that takes up their time and room in their minds. They only think about you when they have a problem that you can fix. Once they have been treated and are no longer in pain, they will stop thinking about you and what you can do for them—even if they liked you. After a few months, they will have trouble remembering your name. Then, when the old pain flares up or a new one appears, they go back on the hunt for someone who can fix the issue, and that someone may not be you.
Patients Need to Be Reminded to Return
That is why you have to stay in communication with your patients after they’ve left your office. This is where your marketing and your list come into play. Your list allows you to send out reminders for patients to come back. Even once the course of care is complete, you can use this to get patients to return in the future. Regular communication to “touch base” and provide your patient with valuable, interesting information reminds them that you are there and you care about them. Then when a new problem arises, your name will be what they remember—because you’ve already made an effort to be at the forefront of their mind and demonstrate you care.
Not only does this increase patients returning, it opens up opportunities for people to refer their family and friends to you. When Mrs. Smith hears her neighbor or great-aunt is dealing with a foot problem that she knows and remembers (from your regular, valuable communications) you can solve, she’ll be able to pass on your name.
What You Can Do to Keep Patients Coming Back Instead of Going Elsewhere
Using your list is absolutely crucial for getting your patients to return to you. Through marketing “touches” like e-mail blasts, print and electronic newsletters, postcards, and other reminders, you use the contact routes your patients provide you with to stay in contact. This helps build that relationship and trust while marketing what you can do for them and their loved ones when they need it. This should be part of a comprehensive marketing strategy and managed by your database.At Top Practices, we understand how challenging and time-consuming it can be to use your marketing database to its fullest to get patients to return to you—but we also know exactly how important it is. It’s something we discuss regularly in our Mastermind Group. If you’d like to use your list to its fullest and help keep patients from going somewhere else, let us know. You can e-mail us questions at [email protected] or call us at (717) 725-2679.