Doctors and care providers across the healthcare continuum understand the impact a good rapport with patients has on their ability to provide superior medical care. A strong patient-provider relationship facilitates cooperation and provides greater opportunities to learn about a patient’s unique health needs. This enables providers to better connect patients with the treatments and resources to improve overall health.
At an organizational level, building and maintaining strong relationships is just as important, now more than ever.
Think of it this way, modern healthcare consumers are experiencing higher premiums, deductibles, and copays. As a result, they’ve taken it upon themselves to ensure the healthcare systems they use provide the greatest value for their money. Consumers are researching competitive pricing, overall care quality, and customer service in order to choose the healthcare organizations that balance price and value.
Given the fact that it costs five times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one, it’s becoming increasingly important that organizations focus on patient retention. By building relationships with patients across the healthcare system, organizations can identify opportunities to provide greater value throughout the patient’s healthcare journey, helping create patients for life.
With this in mind, we will explore four reasons why relationship management is an essential part of effective patient retention.
1. Strong Relationships Boost Patient Confidence
According to the 2017 Consumer Health Care Priorities study, What Patients and Doctors Want from the Health Care System, participants revealed that the “single most important hallmark of quality care” was the patient-provider relationship. Patients want to feel confident their provider takes the time to get to know their individual healthcare needs and is equipped to provide the level of care they expect.
Across a healthcare organization, patients expect that same quality relationship they experience with their doctors across departments, employees, and marketing engagements. Going further, patients expect those relationships to deliver the personalization that demonstrates an organization has taken the time to understand their individual healthcare needs. After all, this is how they expect their relationships with other brands to go as well, not just healthcare.
Through the use of an HCRM, healthcare organizations can meet these patient demands, merging disparate patient data together to provide personalized engagements tailored to the individual’s unique healthcare journey. In doing so, patient relationships can be built and maintained, resulting in greater patient confidence in the organization’s ability to understand a patient and cater to his or her healthcare needs.
2. Relationships Help Involve Patients in Their Own Care
Consumers today value being included in the conversations surrounding their healthcare treatment options. Furthermore, they want to be connected with the resources and guidance that help them understand their individual healthcare needs and make informed decisions toward better health and wellness.
When organizations make an effort to build relationships with their patients, the benefits are two-fold:
First, they can better understand the unique medical history and healthcare needs of individual patients. This provides the organization with the insights required to connect a patient to the tools and resources that help them learn about their needs and care options while empowering them to make the informed decisions they value.
Second, relationships increase the number of opportunities an organization can leverage to bring a patient into their healthcare decision-making process. The better an organization understands a patient, the more they can match unique resources, treatment options, and information for the patient to use.
Furthermore, the stronger the relationship between a patient and an organization, the more likely these tailored resources and information will resonate and drive retention efforts.
3. Strong Relationships Lead to Positive Customer Experiences
Patients who consistently feel connected to their healthcare organization on a personal level are more likely to have positive overall experiences across the healthcare continuum. With this in mind, stronger patient relationships demonstrate value that goes above and beyond quality treatment and care. The greater value a healthcare organization can provide, the more they will differentiate from competing healthcare organizations.
It’s also worth noting that in today’s value-based care model, any indication of poor overall experience to consumers can negatively impact customer acquisition and existing patient retention efforts. By developing and nurturing strong long-term patient relationships, organizations can better anticipate patient needs and provide proactive care that leads to better health outcomes and greater overall customer experience.
Additionally, organizations with better customer experience indicators generate disproportionately more than they spend. Although traditionally, higher patient experience scores are typically associated with increases in expenses per patient, research suggests that investments in patient experience increase costs, but increase revenue even more.
4. Relationships Help Marketers Optimize their Efforts
Healthcare marketing campaigns are complex, covering a wider number of touchpoints and channels in order to engage with consumers and retain existing patients along their healthcare journeys. To effectively optimize campaigns, marketers need to provide targeted, consistent, and personalized interactions across their marketing efforts.
By leveraging patient data fed into the healthcare CRM, marketers can create 360-degree patient profiles that encapsulate the distinctive health journeys of each patient and allow marketers to tailor efforts to each unique patient’s needs and interests.
However, in order to obtain modern patient profiles, marketers need better data on individual patients to feed into the HCRM. Enter the patient relationship. Stronger relationships across the healthcare organization increase the likelihood that patients will engage with marketing efforts—the more engagements a campaign can generate, the more analytics marketers can leverage to optimize the impact of future campaigns.
Simply put, fostering stronger relationships with patients is an investment toward better healthcare marketing. When patients feel comfortable and confident that the healthcare organization understands them and works toward providing them with the best health and wellness solutions, they’ll want to interact with the organization more often, thereby extending the overall patient lifetime value. Subsequently, marketers will have greater access to individual patient data, leading to even better marketing campaign efforts down the road.
Modern healthcare organizations understand that in order to remain profitable, they need to find the right customers, guide them through their individual health and wellness journeys, and offer the level of value that facilitates strong patient retention.
With this in mind, incorporating stronger relationship-building across the healthcare continuum provides organizations with more opportunities to facilitate the positive customer experiences needed for improved patient-retention.