Patient loyalty is crucial to your practice’s success. When you can count on returning patients, you have more stability. A loyal patient also costs your facility less money: they only go through onboarding once and are less likely to receive duplicate tests. Additionally, that patient's annual value increases each year as they become more familiar with staff members and your services. Overall, loyalty reduces hospital readmissions, improves response rates for diagnostic screenings and generally provides better continuity of care.
Despite these benefits, there are still widespread misconceptions about patient loyalty. Below, we explore three in particular.
Myth 1: Frequent Visits Indicate Loyalty
Unfortunately (and counter-intuitively), frequency doesn’t always equal loyalty. Just because patients have scheduled several appointments doesn’t mean they’re loyal to you. Many patients say they would leave a long-time provider if only one experience failed to meet their expectations.
This isn’t always the case — some repeat patients might be incredibly loyal. However, healthcare providers should understand the difference.
Myth 2: Satisfaction Is the Same as Loyalty
Likewise, patient satisfaction doesn’t always indicate loyalty. Today’s consumers expect — if not demand — convenience, and healthcare is no exception. Satisfied patients may still leave a provider for one that offers a more convenient experience.
Instead of measuring just satisfaction, observe how people engage with your brand throughout the entire patient journey. Look at every interaction from the initial discovery through scheduling, billing and follow-ups. What changes could make your practice more convenient? Consider features like online check-in or automated collections.
Myth 3: Patient Experience Isn’t Important
Patient experience has become a bit of a buzzword, and rightfully so: it’s critical to forming trust and fostering a strong patient-provider relationship. According to a recent report by Press Ganey, researchers found that patient experience is five times more likely to influence loyalty than other healthcare marketing strategies. Hence, providers should have positive, meaningful interactions with patients at every step of their journey.
How to Avoid These Myths
These misconceptions are detrimental to patient loyalty. So, how do you steer clear of them?
The easy answer: build strong, personal relationships with your patients. A patient who feels heard and understood is more likely to have a better experience and a better connection to their provider. In turn, that patient is more likely to return to the practice and remain loyal to a brand.
These strong patient-provider relationships don’t form overnight. They require time, energy and an intimate understanding of your audience. Fortunately, psychographic segmentation provides a wealth of data that can be used to improve communications and increase loyalty.
PatientBond’s proven psychographic segmentation model categorizes healthcare consumers into one of five groups based on their values, lifestyle and preferences. This data then helps you understand what makes your patients tick. It can also show you what methods of communication they prefer as well as what they’re looking for in a healthcare provider.
Take payments, for example. No one likes receiving bills, but you can make your patients’ lives easier by accepting the payment methods they use most.
The 2018 PatientBond Consumer Diagnostic, a nationally-representative study on healthcare consumers in the United States, analyzed how different segments preferred to make healthcare payments. Three segments — Self Achievers, Balance Seekers and Willful Endurers — are interested in paying online via PayPal. These segments include millennials, who prefer online payments for their convenience, but some segments, like Priority Jugglers, prefer to mail it in instead. If you provide multiple payment options for your patients like paying online, over the phone or in-person, you appeal to their unique preferences and therefore give them a better overall experience.
Together, the psychographic segmentation model and PatientBond’s patient engagement platform can help you more effectively communicate with your audience. Our automated communication and digital follow-ups allow you to engage with patients on a personal level, forming stronger, more meaningful relationships. As a result, our platform has led to a 40% growth in patient loyalty and a 55% digital engagement rate — that’s three times more than manual phone calls!
Patient loyalty and patient experience are non-negotiable aspects of the modern healthcare landscape. Make sure you’re doing all you can to provide patients with an optimal experience and a stable patient-provider connection, so they wouldn’t think of going anywhere else.
For more insights on patient loyalty, download our case study.