How To Improve Patient Retention

How To Improve Patient Retention

Perhaps it’s the prevalence of the current tap-and-swipe mentality that makes us so fickle — or just a bad case of the grass is always greener — but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep patients loyal to one doctor or practice.

Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to keep your patients happy and satisfied. Here are five tips that your surgical practice can implement to increase patient retention.

Retention Strategies For Surgical Practices

surgeon talking with patient about steps of surgery

1. Don’t Make Patients Wait Weeks For an Appointment

The first step for how to increase patient retention is to get your patients in the door and not make them wait for weeks or months to get an appointment. When people have an urgent question, peace of mind and reassurance are often more important than meeting with the most reputable doctor.

surgical patient waiting for an appointment

While it’s gratifying to be a busy doctor with scores of patients lining up for an appointment, there’s nothing patients hate more than having to wait weeks for a consult. If an appointment is harder to score than a table at the best restaurant in town, patients are going to head over to a practice where the doctors are more available.

Sometimes, it is a matter of having a more efficient scheduling system. Surgical scheduling platforms, such as Surgimate, enable practices to maximize their appointment times which in turn provides patients with a smoother scheduling experience. 

2. Keep an Eye On the Clock

Patients hate being left to languish in waiting room purgatory. According to a recent study, 20% of patients switch doctors due to long wait times. While patients want a doctor who will give them all the time in the world, there are only so many minutes allowed for each patient.

surgical patient frustrated in the waiting room

With appointment times getting shorter and shorter and practices trying to squeeze in as many visits as possible, doctors inevitably go over their allotted time. This leaves patients kicking their heels in the waiting room and cursing whoever gets called in before them. 

The key to a happy patient is to balance the time allotted for each surgical appointment without compromising on care. Perhaps scheduling just one less patient every day per doctor will help keep things on schedule and patients pleased.

Sticking to the clock as much as possible shows patients their time is just as valuable as the doctor’s and is a guaranteed way of keeping satisfaction high.  

3. Mind the (Bedside) Manners

surgical patient listening to steps of surgery and recovery

Don’t underestimate the power of good bedside manners from everyone in the practice, from the receptionist to the medical staff. Politeness, friendliness, and above all, compassion, go a long way in keeping patients happy — no matter who they encounter.

In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the top indicator for the majority of patients’ satisfaction level is the degree of friendliness they encounter during their visit.

4. Keep Patients Informed On The Medical Process

One critical tip for how to improve patient satisfaction on a surgery floor is to mentally step into the shoes of the patients themselves.  It is incredibly daunting for a patient who is about to undergo surgery or further treatment to feel uninformed about the process.

To keep patients happy and satisfied, the surgeon needs to explain the whole process clearly and simply. Patients need to know the surgeon will be with them every step of the way — especially immediately following a procedure. Doctors should:

  • Welcome questions
  • Explain why a particular course of action has been chosen
  • Dive into what the treatment involves

In order to manage patients’ expectations for post-op, surgeons should describe the recovery process, including any problems or symptoms the patient may encounter after surgery. 

surgeon writing out details for a patient

To make patients feel even more reassured, it is important to set up different ways they can voice their questions or concerns and receive real-time answers from a doctor or qualified medical professional. There are many examples of communication channels including:  

  • Hotlines
  • Communication apps 
  • Online forums

A little TLC goes a long long way, particularly during a time when patients feel most vulnerable.

5. Expand Your Horizons When It Comes to Accepting Insurance Companies

welcome sign inviting new insurance providers

A very practical step to boost your surgery patient retention rate is to widen your circle of acceptable insurance companies. If you can no longer accept a particular type of insurance, even the most loyal patient will (reluctantly) move to a different healthcare provider who can.

On the flip side, by accepting only a narrow selection of insurance companies, you are automatically cutting a large potential client base out of your practice.

We know it’s not always easy to meet the demands of the insurance companies, and sometimes, it’s easier to call it a day. Just make sure you are not doing more damage to your practice in the long run.

How to Make Patients Happy at Your Surgical Practice

As with any other industry, the customer must come first. And healthcare is no different. The patient is the customer, and every small detail affects their experience and impression of your surgical practice. Going that extra mile to make your patients feel important and taken care of will definitely increase the chances of patient retention.

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