For Clinicians The Practice Handbook

11 patient retention strategies to use this year

On average, 68% of your appointments will come from existing patients. While focusing on attracting new people, retaining patients should also be a priority when building a thriving medical practice. This post outlines the best strategies that you can introduce to boost your retention plan and gain a loyal patient base who continue to come back to your practice.

11 patient retention strategies:

  1. Make it easier to book appointments
  2. Send e-reminders
  3. Improve the waiting time experience
  4. Collect and publish patient reviews
  5. Respond to all your feedback
  6. Work on doctor-patient relationships
  7. Personalise your patient experience
  8. Keep your patients educated and informed
  9. Leverage social media
  10. Train and educate your team
  11. Create a loyalty programme

Make it easier to book appointments

Scheduling visits over the phone can be frustrating for patients. It can be a barrier that prevents them from re-booking appointments with you. 

Patients want a convenient and seamless scheduling experience that fits into their on-demand world. In a world where people are used to getting things at the touch of a button, think about introducing appointment scheduling software that allows patients to book consultations through an online portal or app. 

Having scheduling software will enable your patients to book appointments online 24/7 and select the times that fit with their busy lives.

How to make scheduling simple for your patients:

  1. Implement a self-scheduling tool that allows patients to book appointments online. Ensure you have the right rules in place to get appropriate requests.
  2. Integrate the tool with your practice management software so that your patients can see up-to-date, real-time appointment availability. 
  3. Set aside same and next day appointment slots for patients needing urgent visits. This will prevent them from seeking care at another practice.
  4. Allow your patients to reschedule or cancel their appointments to reduce no-shows.

Implement e-reminders

Sending automated reminders is a great way to engage your patients and keep them returning to your practice. 

How to use e-reminders for patient retention:

  1. Send appointment reminders with an option to reschedule or cancel a visit.
  2. Include pre-appointment instructions to help your patients understand how to prepare for their appointment.
  3. Engage with patients who haven’t visited your practice in a while by encouraging them to schedule their check-ups. For example, to do routine blood work or have a skin exam.

Improve the wait time experience

Long wait times are one of the main causes of patient complaints. We understand that these can sometimes be inevitable, especially when providing high-quality personalised care. However, there are things you can change to improve the waiting time experience and lessen patients’ anxiety and frustration. Patients are more likely to stay and recommend a practice that values their time and takes the right steps forward to offer a positive waiting experience.

How to improve the waiting time experience:

  1. Advise your non-clinical team members to greet patients when they arrive and be approachable if they have any questions or concerns.
  2. Add a children’s play area to keep them busy as they wait. You can make it even more fun by providing doctor-related toys.
  3. Offer a coffee station and nutritious snacks such as fresh fruits.
  4. Display wait times to inform patients of their estimated duration in the waiting room.
  5. Use the waiting room to educate your patients. Decorate the walls with useful infographics or even play an educational movie.

Collect and publish patient reviews

doctor showing a tablet to a patient

Patient satisfaction plays a crucial role in patient retention. Asking for patient feedback is an efficient and effective way of checking if your patients are happy with your care.

At Doctify, we help providers to automate their review collection so that they can better understand and improve patients’ experiences. Explore how we can help you to get more meaningful patient reviews here.

Why collecting patient feedback is important:

  1. Genuine reviews can help you identify potential gaps in your care and take the right steps to improve them.
  2. Empowering patients to share their voices helps to boost patient engagement. Engaged patients are more likely to return to your practice and recommend you to their friends and family.
  3. Collecting feedback shows you truly care about your patients’ experiences, enabling you to build trust and a loyal patient base.
  4. Publishing transparent patient reviews online boosts your online reputation, helping you reach new patients and retain existing ones.

Respond to all your feedback

When collecting and publishing patient feedback online, it’s important to respond to what your patients say. Replying to all feedback gives you an excellent opportunity to show that you listen and genuinely care about your patients’ experiences. 

On average, only 3% of negative reviews get a response and this shouldn’t be the case. Ignoring unhappy and dissatisfied patients will make them want to find a healthcare practitioner who listens to their feedback and takes it on board.

Work on the doctor-patient relationship

patient-doctor relationship supportive doctor touching patient arm

Successful practices are built on trust and solid doctor-patient relationships. Having a reliable connection with your patients motivates them to stay under your care.

Read our dedicated blog post exploring 6 ways to improve doctor-patient relationships.

Personalise your patient experience

Personalising care enables patients to have more control and choice regarding their physical and mental health. When patients are involved in decision-making about their care, they are more likely to commit to medical advice and follow the chosen treatment plan. 

Supporting patient autonomy and letting them manage their health will improve their satisfaction with your service. Happy patients are essential to increasing retention and growing a successful medical practice.

Watch the NHS video to better understand how a personalised care approach can benefit people’s health and wellbeing, adding value to their lives and experiences.

Keep your patients educated and informed

Healthcare can be overwhelming and confusing to some patients. Providing educational support can make it easier for patients to find and digest all the information that they need. In fact, it is one of the most effective patient retention strategies as it enables you to build trust and become a reliable source for health-related information.

6 benefits of patient education:

  1. Improved communication between healthcare providers and patients
  2. Boosted patient trust, loyalty and satisfaction
  3. Enhanced quality of life
  4. Increased commitment to medical advice
  5. Patients feel motivated to take an active role in their health

Patient education can include anything from providing information on the health insurance plans you accept to providing paperwork in the patient’s native language. Empowering patients to feel more educated and comfortable with their visit will make them more likely to re-engage with your practice in the future.

Leverage social media

doctor looking at his phone

Social media is a great way to keep your patients engaged.

Being active on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and even TikTok shows that you are reachable and committed to connecting with your patients. At the same time, you can provide them with educational and reliable content, becoming their go-to source when looking for information and healthcare support. 

How to use social media as one of your patient retention strategies:

  1. Highlight positive patient reviews. At Doctify, healthcare providers can download social media templates to make publishing feedback easier.
  2. Raise awareness about common health issues and encourage patients to visit your practice for routine check-ups.
  3. Share quick and engaging tips on how to stay healthy. For example, post an infographic showing how to deal with tooth sensitivity or mouth sores.

Train and educate your team

To keep a patient returning to your practice, you need to involve your entire team to offer an exceptional experience at every touchpoint of a patient journey. Invest time and resources to train and educate your non-clinical personnel to ensure they’re providing outstanding patient care.

What patients value in non-clinical team members:

  1. A friendly greeting and excellent front-desk service
  2. Approachable staff who they feel comfortable asking questions to
  3. Clear communication and information 
  4. Respect and politeness

Create a loyalty programme

Loyalty programmes are fantastic for creating long-term relationships. By offering benefits to your regular patients, you encourage them to stay with you and your practice.

How to create a successful loyalty programme:

  1. Offer a discount or a free visit after a certain number of appointments
  2. Have a paid membership with exclusive perks—for example, an option to contact the doctor directly at any time or same day visit.
  3. Provide free educational resources and health screenings
  4. Reward patients for getting yearly check-ups

What are the benefits of loyalty programmes?

  1. Increased patient engagement
  2. Improved patient satisfaction
  3. More referrals
  4. Great return of investment (ROI)
  5. Boosted patient retention

Doctify is a healthcare review platform that is on a mission to ensure that no patient is left unheard. We help healthcare providers to automate their feedback collection and get actionable insights to support their delivery of patient-centric care.

To learn how we can support your patient retention strategy and boost your patient engagement, visit our Provider Centre.

Book a demo