The healthcare industry has so many working parts it’s hard sometimes to take a step back and look at what really matters, patients. Practices are usually so focused on HIPAA compliance, managing their office, IT services, and documentation that they sometimes forget the basics of patient nurturing and retention. Finding better ways to connect with your patients will enhance their loyalty to your practice, ultimately increasing your revenue. It’s a win, win. Using research, we have put together a list of things that patients are looking for and ways you can help facilitate their needs to create better connections and loyalty.
Building Connection Requires Nurturing Relationships.
1. A Sense of Belonging
Humans, as a species, are naturally social creatures. When we think about nurturing relationships to enhance patient loyalty, we can leverage this aspect of human nature. According to the Huffington Post,
“Our brains are further wired in a way that we experience reward during mutual social interactions, and feel sensations similar to physical pain when we are socially rejected or disapproved.”
Knowing this means that we recognize the need to be a part of “mutual social interactions” or have a sense of belonging. Our brains are hard-wired to make us feel good when we belong and the opposite when we feel rejected. An excellent method to help others feel like they belong is by simply listening to their concerns and showing empathy to their situation. We know it seems basic, but it’s the easiest way to understand where your patients' viewpoints are and tailor their care around their emotional and health needs.
2. Becoming the Person, They Want to Be.
When we were kids, we all wanted to be something when we grew up. Some wanted to be astronauts, while others wanted to be a dinosaur. As we grow up, our vision of what we want to change, but the basic concept of self-projection is the same. When building relationships with your patients, you can utilize this by showing interest in your patients' personal goals. Ask them about their professional goals while also working to show them how the care you provide can help them achieve their goals.
Engaging patients helps them feel like you are on their team, and you do care about their life goals. Further building better connections and loyalty.
3. Reduce Stress & Anxiety
Another basic emotional need for people is the need to feel secure. According to PSYCT Psychological Thought,
“people’s feelings of psychological security and interpersonal trust should be increased because these variables are important to one’s psychological well-being, and they have significant relationships with practical life outcomes.”
As a healthcare provider, you can help patients feel secure by focusing on their future health. Sending specific messaging that concentrates on preventative care will reassure them that you have their back and hopefully encourage them to come back into your practice more often.
4. Health & Wellness
Health and wellness should be your number one concern when it comes to your patients because, to them, that’s the only reason they are coming to your practice. The best way to do this is by providing the right care efficiently and accurately to fulfill your patients' needs. Going back to the concept of listening. If you are listening to your patients, really listening, then you can provide the care they feel they need with extras to ensure the quality of their care is above and beyond.
5. Looking to be Informed
Everyone wants to be in “the know” and ahead of the curve, including your patients. Providing them with current industry information in the forms of brochures, magazines, and informative videos in your lobby is a great start.
In addition, you can add more value by expanding on these with your educational expertise. You did go to school for many years and have a large volume of healthcare-specific knowledge. Use that to help your patients feel like they are ahead of the curve. They will appreciate it more than you know and remember that you helped them understand.
6. Quality & Value
According to Nielsen’s 2011 global Online Survey, 61 percent of 25,000 Internet respondents across 51 countries choose “good value” over “low Price.” This survey was done with many kinds of consumers, but we can use these findings to assume the same about your patients. Price is a factor to everyone, but when patients are looking for a practice, the costs are similar across the board. The only way you can stand out is by providing more value and quality of care.
Providing your patients with transparency on their billing and taking time to go over their bills with them is a way to add value to your practice. It’s a small but effective way to get your patients to see the value you provide. Other ways to provide value are by utilizing trending health technologies like telehealth, electronic health records, and remote monitoring. These will cut down on office visits but will same everyone time and money, ultimately increasing the value for your patients.
7. Fun & Entertainment
Everyone wants a little fun in their life, and there is nothing worse than waiting in a doctor's office and watching the same infomercial play over and over. So why not supply your lobby with more options for fun to help your patients pass the time. Some options are Free Wi-Fi, Small Tablets for paperwork, and just exploring the web, and a television with live cable.
Understanding your patients can be difficult sometimes, but by following these basics, you can set up your practice for success, not only in revenue but in client retention as well. After all, taking care of people is what you do.