How to keep patients coming back

How to keep patients coming back

Patient loyalty is one of the most important factors determining the success of your practice. The most profitable patients you’ll ever have are the ones who keep coming back. In these days of doctor hopping and practice shopping, how can you hang onto your existing patient base?

The patient experience is everything.

We hear this truism over and over, and at face value it’s pretty obvious. Quality service and patient satisfaction are always the goal. But have you sat down and examined every facet of your patients’ experience in your practice-from the moment they call your office until the bill is paid?

Tiny things can make a huge difference. As an exercise, think about every point of contact your patient has with your practice, and ask yourself a series of detailed questions. The average patient experience can be broken down into the following four sections:


  • When a patient calls your practice, how are they greeted?
  • If you use an automated menu, is it easy to navigate?
  • Do they have an option to speak to a “real person” at any point or do they need to pass through multiple electronic gatekeepers?
  • Do you offer multiple avenues for booking an appointment?
  • Can patients book online?
  • How easy is it to get an appointment at a time that is convenient to them?
  • Do you offer any late opening times?

Waiting room

  • Are patients greeted with a smile and a friendly word?
  • How long is your average wait?
  • When appointments are running behind, how are patients notified?
  • Is your waiting room a pleasant environment?
  • Are your chairs comfortable?
  • Are your magazines recent, and do you offer a variety to appeal to many patient demographics?
  • Do you offer enough options to keep children distracted and busy?
  • Is there drinking water available?
  • Do you have enough restrooms, and are they well-kept and attractive?
  • Do you offer hand sanitizer?

Exam room

  • How is the temperature in the room?
  • Is there a private place for patients to change?
  • Is there somewhere for them to put their clothes?
  • Is there something pleasing to look at, or are patients staring at rows of medical supplies?
  • Is there some reading material in case the doctor is delayed?


  • Do patients have a convenient way to access advice or ask questions after they leave the office?
  • Do they go home with clear, written instructions?
  • Do you offer educational resources and support for overall wellness goals?
  • Do you make it easy for them to renew prescriptions?
  • Do you send clear, attractive reminder and recall notices?

Taking a patient’s eye view of your practice can be enlightening, and it’s worth taking a frequent look at the many small ways you can tweak operations to offer a higher level of care. You may focus a lot of energy and resources on attracting new clients, but if they never return, all of that effort is wasted. Repeat business is the only way to build a sustainable practice, and a satisfied patient is a walking marketing department for you.