Healthcare Business11 Best Communication Tips to Build Patient Loyalty for Your Healthcare Business

Sangeeta Kumar Sangeeta Kumar1 month ago18 min

Patient expectations have changed tremendously over the years, with many of them seeking comprehensive healthcare services that are quicker, affordable, and more effective than before. The demand for advanced healthcare services was further propelled by the pandemic-induced restrictions that compelled healthcare practitioners to resort to more online ways of serving patients.

Thanks to healthcare digital marketing, there are oceans of information available online that have made the patients more like consumers who, unlike before, are now actively involved in their healthcare decisions. They want to stay connected with their doctors at every step of their care journey, be it while booking an appointment or during follow-up visits, and are looking for wholesome online experiences beyond their hospital visits and treatments.

Why Do You Need More Loyal Patients for Your Practice?

Patient loyalty is a key concept every practice needs to emphasize and should work. Returning patients can bolster your revenue, with one patient’s lifetime health spending being worth about $1.4 million per individual or $4.2 million per family. Nonetheless, a loyal patient is worth more than just their medical bills. When patients feel well cared for, they are more likely to recommend your services to their family and friends and unknowingly become positive brand ambassadors for your healthcare brand. A satisfied patient can be more accommodating than new prospects and need not go through redundant tests and screenings each time, thus helping you save valuable resources.

11 Tips to Make Your Patient Loyal to You

Considering how important it is to foster patient loyalty, here are 11 time-tested ways to build a lasting relationship with your patients, turning them into your loyal promoters:

1. Engage with your patients on a personal level

Patients anywhere seek a sense of belonging. If you connect with your patients beyond their regular checkups and visits, they are more likely to get actively involved in your practice and have more positive associations. Poor patient services are the number one reason why patients leave. So, it’s imperative to know your patient’s expectations and work towards addressing their concern with compassion. Gather and analyze patient behavior data to assess what patients expect from your practice and offer it to them.

2. Leverage technology to improve patient experience

Never before has there been such an influx of high-end technology and tools that have greatly improved patient experience. While COVID and its resulting restrictions fueled the need for virtual assistance and remote care, the trend of telemedicine and 24/7 live support is here to stay. Any thriving healthcare practitioner knows how important it is to stay connected with their patient at all times. This is where leveraging state-of-art-technology can multiply the outcomes of your healthcare goals. Arrange video calls for patients who can’t make it to your clinic in person. Use real-time patient surveys to gather patient feedback regarding their experience with your facility. You can employ patient portals to gain deeper insights into patient behavior and adjust your services accordingly to provide more personalized care.

3. Appreciate your patients on social media

If used wisely, social media can be a blessing for doctors and healthcare practitioners. Publicly appreciating your patients should be an intrinsic part of your practice’s marketing plan. A personal, meaningful gesture of appreciation can create a memorable patient experience that they will most likely share with their friends and family, increasing your referrals. So, put in the effort to go beyond a thank you note by interacting with your patients through virtual events, sending them e-certificates that honor their cooperation, offering them complimentary services, and more.

4. Deliver value with your services

Prescribing medicines and giving medical advice is what every doctor does, but delivering value is not everyone’s cup of tea. Your patient needs to know that you are different, and this can be achieved only when you have a distinct brand value from your competitors. What drives you? What are your practice’s mission and vision? The more specific you are regarding the services you provide and your area of specialization, the better your patients will understand how your services can benefit them. Make sure that your words align with your actions and that you are able to deliver the kind of care expected by your patients.

5. Empathize with your patients

To empathize means to understand your patients’ emotions and assure them that their concerns are being heard and addressed. Expressing empathy in healthcare is a great way to build patient trust, calm anxiety, and improve healthcare outcomes. You must train your staff to take into account every step of the patient’s care journey and satisfy their needs at that particular moment. For instance, if someone just went through critical heart surgery, instead of hounding them with pending hospital bills, you need to watch how they are being treated beyond the surgery.

6. Maintain consistency in your interactions

Consistency is a must in this age of healthcare consumerism. Keeping up with the ever-changing demands of the patients may seem challenging, but it is not impossible. Even simple things can help deliver a consistent, consumer-centric experience that helps you acquire and retain more patients.

Use technology to reach out to your patients, no matter where they are, with appointment reminders, preventive health reminders, and useful pro-health tips. You can also encourage questions on once-taboo subjects like cost, quality, and alternative therapies to build trust and patient loyalty and establish yourself as a reliable source of health-related information.

7. Connect beyond digital

While technology has made the patient experience smooth and seamless, it is important to personalize healthcare with a human touch. Instead of automating everything, train your staff to follow up on patients in person, say after major surgery. If you haven’t heard from a patient for long, take out the time to place a call and schedule an appointment, if needed. Traditional mails, hand-written thank you notes, or personalized holiday greetings are some other ways in which you can connect with your patients beyond digital.

8. Assure your patients that they are in good hands

Positive online reviews and ratings are seen as social proof by prospective patients, giving them a better idea of how good your practice is and why they should choose you. It also builds trust by assuring your patients that they are well cared for, turning them into your loyal promoters. So, monitor your online review and ratings and leverage the same to win your patients’ confidence.  Promptly address any negative reviews and work on making the patient experience wholesome by resolving patient pain points.

9. Create an environment that encourages exchange and connection

Your patient needs to feel safe before they can trust you.  Providing a safe environment where they can voice their concerns and get timely medical advice is key to achieving greater patient loyalty.

Keep your patients informed about the latest regulatory guidelines and how they can affect their health. You can also tell them about any new technology that you have invested in to provide better patient care or a breakthrough in research on treatment options for a chronic illness.

10. Provide information and confirm understanding

While it is important to share regular health updates and other relevant information with your patients, you need to confirm how far they have understood the information shared.

This will help you adjust your methods of communication to ensure better health outcomes. One way to confirm the patient’s understanding is the ‘teach-back’ method.  Here, you can explain a concept to your patient without using any medical jargon and then ask them to explain the same in their own words. If their explanation doesn’t align with your intended communication, you can resolve the misunderstanding by finding other alternatives.

11. Always ask for feedback

You need to know what patients like or dislike about your practice to be able to give them the kind of care they expect and deserve. Patient feedback is a critical means of getting a clearer picture of patient expectations. Note the feedback may not necessarily be about your treatment methods. Instead, it could relate to the waiting time, staff behavior, confusing medical bills, etc. Encourage regular patient feedback to create a culture of open communication and constant improvement, ensuring patient-centric healthcare. One way of implementing this culture could be through implementing a reputation management solution that automatically send surveys to patients to collect their feedback and also provide detailed AI-powered insights on those feedbacks. You can ask your healthcare digital marketing agency about such a patient-centric solution, and chances are they may already have access to it.

Can Patients Let Go of Mistakes?

Despite your best intentions and efforts, you may make mistakes while dealing with your patients. However, this doesn’t have to spell the end of your practice. Here are a few ways in which you can communicate more effectively with unhappy patients and boost retention:

  • Listen without overreacting- While you may feel the urge to defend your practice against an unpleasant or negative comment, it’s vital to keep your calm, understand their perspective and address their concerns in the best way possible.
  • Go the extra mile- If a patient is unhappy with your long wait times, sending a personalized greeting card will not resolve the issue. Instead, provide mobile queue tools or telehealth solutions to reduce patient wait time.
  • Show genuine care- Patients can sense when a practitioner is genuinely interested in their wellbeing. Once a mistake has been made, instead of sending an automated apology, validate the patient’s concern, respect and value their feedback and take concrete steps to remedy their grievances.

Your Patients Are More Than Numbers

A loyal patient is invaluable both in terms of continued services and word-of-mouth referrals.  However, it is important not to treat your patients as mere numbers on your list. Patient loyalty can be strengthened with every interaction, so it is essential to accurately assess patient expectations and work towards fulfilling their unique needs each time.

Never be passive while interacting with your patients; instead, take charge and familiarize yourself with their medical background to provide personalized treatment. Let your patients know that you are there for them 24/7 by establishing transparent and uninterrupted communication, thus ensuring seamless patient engagement, greater brand loyalty, and proactive care.

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Sangeeta Kumar

Sangeeta Kumar

Sangeeta Kumar is the Vice President of Marketing for Healthcare DMS, an India based healthcare digital marketing agency. Sangeeta is a jack-of-all-trades kind of person in the world of Internet marketing, excelling in market research to come up with a strategy based on the latest trends to get a website on page 1. She knows her stuff and enjoys a good discussion on SEO and marketing anywhere, anytime.

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