Featured image for rater8 blog on improving patient retention, showing a happy patient handing paperwork to their provider.

TestHow to Improve Your Practice’s Patient Retention

How to Improve Your Practice’s Patient Retention

In healthcare, few metrics get as much attention as patient acquisition. This popularity is not without good reason, as a steady stream of new patients is vital for any successful operation — especially new and small practices.

Patient acquisition is far from the only factor that matters, though. Like any other operation, practices thrive most when they have loyal, repeat patients. As a result, it’s critical to understand how to increase and maintain your practice’s patient retention.

In this article, we will explore what makes patient retention so important and what your practice can do to improve it.

Why is patient retention important?

Measuring how many new patients convert to long-term patients, retention is a vital metric for any practice in terms of revenue, experience, and overall care.

From a business perspective, retention improves the average lifetime value of a practice’s patients, driving greater revenue. In fact, a 5% growth in retention can increase lifetime profits by 25% to 100%.

Additionally, returning patients streamline check-in procedures and increase practice efficiency. Because of their previous visits, loyal patients also have more realistic expectations when it comes to overall experience, leading to better reviews.

Above all else, the top benefit of patient retention is improved quality of care. 

Whether for acute, preventative, or emergency treatment, patients who use the same provider overwhelmingly receive better service than those who do not. As a result, it’s in every provider’s best interest to foster long-term relationships with their patients—and vice versa.

Female doctor smiles while talking with patient.

Strategies for improving your practice’s patient retention

Leverage post-visit surveys

Receiving feedback from your patients is a simple and effective way to improve your patient retention. While there are a few different ways to collect this information, post-visit surveys are among the most effective.

Post-visit surveys allow your patients to share their thoughts and experiences directly with your practice, as well as ensure relevant and timely feedback.

With this feedback, your practice can identify areas for improvement and make changes to enhance the patient experience.

For example, if a patient were to give negative feedback on waiting room experience, your practice could then investigate the issue and address the problem in a timely manner, as well as update your processes and procedures to prevent similar situations.

While physical post-visit surveys are tried-and-true methods, we recommend using digital solutions as they are more convenient for the patient and more efficient for you.

Leading solutions, like rater8 for example, integrate directly with your EHR or practice management system, allowing you to send automated post-visit surveys to your patients via text or email. Digital patient satisfaction surveys also provide real-time data analysis, fully customizable questions, and advanced targeting features, which can be used to drastically enhance every aspect of your practice—driving greater patient retention.

rater8 patient satisfaction survey, designed to increase patient retention.

Respond to feedback

When growing patient retention, requesting feedback is only the start—practices should make a consistent effort to respond to internal feedback and online reviews they receive.

To truly increase retention, rater8 recommends not only responding to negative feedback, but to positive reviews as well. In doing so, your practice will not only address your critics, but affirm your supporters—giving all of your patients the impression that they are heard and appreciated. As one can expect, this kind of engagement fosters a sense of trust and loyalty between patients and their providers.

When addressing negative reviews, it’s important to ensure that your responses are empathetic and non-confrontational. If possible, you should also include actionable steps to address the patient’s feedback in your response. Because negative reviews often come from a place of frustration, demonstrating you understand the issue and providing clear steps to rectify the problem will generally lead to a positive overall outcome.

As a best practice, you should also look to implement those actionable changes as soon as possible.

Of course, responding to online reviews can easily become a full-time job, especially for practices with multiple locations and providers. To expedite the process, solutions like rater8 consolidate all reviews to a single dashboard. Complete with nearly two dozen pre-written, customizable, HIPAA-compliant responses, rater8 allows practices to respond to comments in a matter of seconds!

Keep a dialogue going

Beyond in-person appointments and online portals, you can grow retention by communicating with your patients regularly—not just when they need healthcare.

Of the many ways to stay in regular contact with your patients, email marketing campaigns are among the simplest and most common. 

Sending regular newsletters and updates allows your practice to stay engaged with your patients between visits. You can even use emails to promote preventative care options, encourage feedback, and remind patients to schedule follow-up appointments.

No matter how they’re used, the keys to effective campaigns are efficiency and scope. As a result, we recommend using email marketing solutions, as opposed to composing each correspondence on your own.

Leading solutions, like HubSpot and Mailchimp, allow users to build emails with pre-existing templates, schedule and deploy entire campaigns, and track recipient activity. To maximize effectiveness, practices can even send more specialized emails by segmenting patients into different groups.

Regardless of your approach, consistently engaging with your patients helps build stronger relationships and keeps your practice at top-of-mind, ultimately leading to greater retention.

Doctor in a tie and long-sleeve shirt stands in front of logos for healthcare review services, including Google, Vitals, WebMB, and more.

Cultivate online reviews

Today, 72% of prospective patients read online reviews when choosing their healthcare provider, per Reputation’s 2022 Healthcare Trends Report. Of the 1,227 U.S. adults surveyed, an additional seventy-two percent noted they prefer providers with an average rating of at least four out of five stars.

Positive reviews are not the only deciding factors, however, as 80% of respondents stated they consider providers with five or more reviews to be more trustworthy than those without. One in two participants also reported they read at least ten reviews before booking an appointment.

The data is clear: the majority of today’s patients seek medical care from providers with a high quantity of recent, relevant, and positive online reviews.

In line with this digital shift, your practice can improve its overall retention by cultivating and maintaining a strong online presence—effectively aligning with the decision-making processes of today’s patients. 

While there are many organic ways to grow online ratings, reputation management platforms are by far the most efficient and effective tools for doing so.

Of the many options available, your practice can stand out among the rest with rater8, healthcare’s only goal-based review builder. Beyond organically growing 5-star patient reviews, our platform uses an internal algorithm, pollin8™, to intelligently distribute reviews across every major healthcare review website—Google, WebMD, Vitals, and more. Even better, our flagship software also spreads reviews across every provider and every office location, ensuring your practice has a comprehensive and well-rounded online presence at every level!

How rater8 improves your patient retention

Boiled down, the secret to patient retention is fairly obvious: high quality communication. 

While simple in concept, timely and relevant outreach can be a difficult task for any practice to achieve, especially for those whose staff is already stretched thin.

Created specifically for healthcare providers, rater8’s multi-faceted reputation management platform allows practices of all sizes to gather feedback through automated patient satisfaction surveys. Boasting an average response rate of 26%, our micro-surveys provide practices with unmatched insights into the needs and concerns of their patients—backed with advanced analytics and reports.

A true all-in-one package, rater8 also helps providers build strong online presences by cultivating organic 5-star patient reviews and distributing them across all major healthcare review websites. When it comes to building a well-rounded image for your practice, there’s no better solution!

Ready to see how rater8 can transform your practice? Schedule a live demo with one of our experts today.

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