Keeping patients in the system is no easy task. 43% of health executives say their organization is losing more than 10% of revenue to patients going elsewhere for care. Even worse? 20% of these healthcare leaders state they don’t know where and why patient leakage occurs.
Unfortunately for health systems, this translates into lost revenue and increased patient acquisition costs. After all, we know it costs 5x more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one.
By focusing on patient retention, health systems can help cut costs and boost revenue by improving the quality and longevity of patient relationships and word-of-mouth referrals.
1. Create and Leverage Patient Journey Maps
As a marketer, you are no doubt familiar with the buying funnel. The same thing applies in healthcare. The buying funnel, or in this case, the patient journey, is comprised of all interactions with a health organization. The journey begins when a patient first makes contact with a healthcare organization and continues with subsequent interactions, both in–person and virtually.
The patient journey map is typically comprised of six stages and outlines each of these touchpoints, helping marketers gain a deeper understanding of the patient’s overall experience. Journey mapping exercises are used to guide the planning, creation, and implementation of communication strategies and campaigns to improve this experience.
Most importantly, journey maps illuminate where there are gaps in the experience that may result in patient loss – for example, no call or text message reminder before a clinical appointment, or no follow-up email after the appointment.
These gaps represent missed engagement opportunities, which may cause the patient to forget about their appointment and miss it, or to never schedule another clinical appointment with that organization again.
When patients lose contact with the health system, the organization loses out on potential retention revenue and may rack up additional acquisition costs. Once these gaps have been identified through a journey mapping exercise, strategic engagement efforts focused on retention can be implemented to close those gaps and prevent patient leakage.
Marketers use this information to employ tactics and processes that fill gaps in the patient experience, including informational emails, outbound calls via an engagement center, appointment reminder text messages, social media interaction, and paid advertising. These efforts work to engage patients, fill patient journey gaps, and improve retention by keeping patients involved and in contact with health systems.
Patient Journey Mapping Resources
2. Optimize Your Digital Marketing Strategy
With one in twenty Google searches focusing on health-related information, the Internet influences how customers interact with healthcare companies. Since consumers often use the web to find answers to care-related inquiries, health systems should have an online presence that offers valuable resources and engagement opportunities. Most importantly, studies show that happy and engaged customers are more likely to be loyal patients.
Effective retention-focused digital marketing tactics, include:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Pay-per-click campaigns (PPC)
- Targeted email outreach
- Social media marketing
- Video marketing
- Web personalization
These methods present patients with relevant information through preferred communication platforms, and also offer an opportunity to collect additional information about the patient, including email addresses and psychographic data. This information then informs and improves future patient marketing campaigns.
Healthcare marketers can also present patients with retention-focused incentives via digital channels, like sending an email with an invite to a relevant, local event.
To create a sound digital strategy, healthcare marketers should take advantage of a healthcare CRM. Using this tool, healthcare marketers reach out in a targeted, personalized way that keeps customers engaged with the health system throughout the care continuum. If engagement is not consistent, patients may lose interest and trust in the health system, resulting in patient loss over the long term.
Digital marketing strategies help healthcare organizations retain patients and gain new information to inform future outreach.
Healthcare Digital Marketing Resources
3. Improve Patient Portal Marketing
A study found that 73 percent of patients believe access to personal health records would help improve their care satisfaction, which is critical when it comes to long term patient engagement and retention. Enter patient portals.
Patient portals are an effective way to ensure patients have easy access to personal health information in a convenient and secure way, including discharge summaries, medications, immunizations, allergies, and lab results.
Patient portals also help satisfy and retain customers is by strengthening patient-provider relationships. Patient portals offer safe direct messaging between patients and physicians, keeping patients engaged and helping them get the most out of their provider relationship.
“A study from athenaResearch found that patients who establish a relationship with their providers via a patient portal are more likely to return to that provider.”
For that reason, healthcare marketers should advertise their organization’s patient portal to encourage patient signups and usage. By leveraging consumer and patient preferences stored in the healthcare CRM, marketers reach patients’ via preferred communication channels, including phone, email, or social media, to promote the benefits of the patient portal.
Patient Engagement Resources
Despite the proven advantages of patient retention, data shows that only 16 percent of companies put their primary focus into customer retention. This is concerning, as increasing customer retention rates by only 5 percent can increase profits by 25 to 95 percent. In addition to the loss of revenue and wasted spend, patient leakage can lead to damaged customer relationships and fewer word-of-mouth referrals.
In order to avoid these pitfalls, healthcare organizations can leverage strategic patient marketing to promote retention and grow your organization’s bottom line.