Patients today are more mobile, with more choices, than at any other time in history. On the whole, this is a positive thing: people are more engaged in their own care, more educated about their options, and more invested in obtaining the best possible outcomes for themselves and their families. The flip side is that practices now need to work harder than ever to earn the loyalty of their patients. We’re all striving to provide excellent care while growing our businesses, but if you’re not paying attention, your physician’s practice may be losing patients. Here are three warning signs that you’re losing business.
1. You notice a spike in missed appointments
People are averse to conflict, especially with perceived authority figures such as doctors. They are unlikely to tell you that they are leaving or why, and may even avoid calling the office to cancel previously scheduled appointments. Our instinct is to blame no-shows on the flakiness of certain patients, but it may be worth your while to track missed appointments. If you start to see a trend you might want to take a look at what could be going on from your end. A friendly, gently inquiring phone call to patients when they miss an appointment could end up providing you with important information and the show of concern may even win back a patient who was on the fence.
2. You suffer from a lack of patient engagement
Do patients respond to surveys from your practice? Do you have an active online presence and do your patients take advantage of this resource? Do people find it easy to access their medical information from your office? Is there more than one way for your patients to get in touch with you for advice or help? If your answer to these questions is “no,” or worse, “I don’t know,” you may be in trouble. Patients want to feel connected with their healthcare providers and are eager to be listened to. Keep the lines of communication open outside of scheduled appointments, and your patients are likely to schedule more appointments.
3. You have no way of measuring marketing results
At times advertising your medical practice can feel like shouting into the void. If you don’t have a system in place to track returns on your advertising investments, you may conclude that nothing’s working. At this stage, many physicians decide not to “throw good money after bad” and cut back or cease marketing efforts altogether. This is a big mistake that could be costing your practice new business. Successful medical practice operations require a carefully planned and specifically targeted marketing campaign. Educate yourself, or invest in expert help, but make sure your message is reaching prospective patients.
Keeping a close eye on the patient experience is the most effective way of making sure your practice stays healthy. Loyal patients are the most valuable patients of all. Not only are they a source of reliable repeat business for your practice, they also generate new patients and new business. When your patients trust you and are satisfied by every aspect of their care, they will sing your praises from the rooftops to friends, family and coworkers.