- Patient loyalty is, essentially, the lifeblood of any organization with a direct, positive correlation to its organic growth.
- There are four explicit ways to build patient loyalty, increase patient retention, and improve NPS scores in healthcare: increase communication, personalize engagement, engage with the patient throughout their journey, and follow through with service recovery.
- Feedtrail’s patient experience platform helps organizations measure the success of their patient loyalty efforts, yield stronger NPS scores, and capitalize on it for greater profitability.
Gaining a new patient or customer costs seven times more than keeping an existing one. In fact, an industry’s loyalty leader grows more than 2x faster than the competition.
Increased patient retention positively correlates with an organization’s profitable organic growth. ROI statistics show that a patient who continues to come back for more than five years can be 377 times more valuable than a one-time patient. Not only does profitability increase with returning patients, but the cost of servicing them also decreases, making their loyalty all the more valuable to providers.
In recent surveys, one out of eight patients left their practice by choice last year. Additionally, one out of three patients say they might switch in the next year or so. These high numbers are alarming and signal a need for healthcare providers to focus on efforts to retain patients and implement proven patient loyalty strategies in their practices.
Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to retain patients through intentional efforts. Read on to learn more about the importance of an NPS (Net Promoter Score) in healthcare and how providers — regardless of size — can drive patient loyalty in their organizations.
Four innovative (and easy) ways to grow patient loyalty
The following strategies, proven effective by large, longstanding healthcare organizations, aren’t just for the goliaths within the industry. At Feedtrail, we believe small organizations can also reap the rewards of these tried-and-true practices.
1. Increase communication
Patients want and need to feel informed throughout their healthcare experience. Strengthening and increasing communication can be done through messages, announcements, and reminders.
Whether it’s a reminder for an upcoming appointment, a welcome message for a first-time patient, or a more personalized message following a missed appointment with a link to rebook, open communication makes a difference.
By being proactive, providers can answer or preempt patients’ questions, easing anxiety and stress, offering support, facilitating their decision-making, and, ultimately, gaining trust.
Feedtrail’s easy-to-use patient loyalty platform also allows healthcare providers to share information, resulting in better coordination of patient care, outcomes, and recovery.
A real-life example of this proactive communication came during Florida’s most recent hurricane season when caregivers used Feedtrail’s platform to provide patients with resources, evacuation protocol updates, and timely facility closure information.
|Recommended reading: 4 Types of Outreach You’re Probably Not Leveraging To Improve Patient and Employee Engagement
2. Personalize engagement
Feedtrail encourages healthcare facilities to always consider the patient demographic and the patient’s background when determining their outreach approach.
No two patients are alike. No two experiences are the same. Therefore, even questionnaires should be relevant and personalized to each patient to strengthen engagement.
Based on information in the patient’s EHR, Feedtrail can utilize simple integrations to ensure personalized outreach reaches the patient at key moments in their healthcare journey.
As with most things, timing is everything when it comes to having impactful communication and response rates. For instance, for recurring patients, reaching out only after key milestones is a crucial strategy because returning patients have already proven their loyalty. Because of that, you want to limit survey fatigue and optimize responses by choosing to contact them either before or after their first appointment or, perhaps, after a certain allotment of time has passed.
Your timing is also important for impactful inpatient communication as well. During an admitted stay, the patient will interact with different individuals and experience various care settings, so engaging with them during those moments and understanding their experience shows the personalized approach.
For example, a patient who receives an imaging exam admitted during a hospital stay interacts with their regular floor nurses and physicians, as well as medical personnel in radiology. In this instance, you might choose to survey them about their various patient experiences before discharge.
Using discretion, however, is also key to patient engagement. Knowing when it is appropriate or beneficial is important. For instance, always allow patients and their families time to settle into any care setting and understand their situation and circumstances before distracting them with messages and questionnaires.
In regards to intensive care unit patients, waiting to send questionnaires until the patient is discharged, or sending the questionnaire to a family member or loved one may make more sense.
“The NICU is a unique area. We have three different patient populations. Some are there for a few days, some for a few hours, and some for a few weeks. Historically, we’ve been using only one set of standard survey questions and we couldn’t customize them for each group. Now, with Feedtrail, we have multiple NICU surveys. We can dive deeper and collect insights to help us understand specifically what we can do to make an impact for our different types of patients and families at key points in their hospitalization.”
— Kat Burton, Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC)
CHOC’s NICU demonstrates one example of how designing engagement programs and being intentional with what you ask and when you’re sending it out can have powerful effects on not only the patients’ experiences but their families as well.
3. Engage throughout their entire journey
Surveys do not have to be saved for discharge. Reaching out before, during, and after a healthcare experience can set an organization apart from its competitors.
Recently, a clinic leveraged Feedtrail’s platform to improve their throughput and scheduling. They wanted more of their patients to complete the pre-surgery paperwork before coming to the facility. Feedtrail enabled a questionnaire and outreach module specifically for their needs and saw a 27% increase in pre-surgery paperwork completion.
In another recent example, since working with Feedtrail, Cedars Sinai has implemented 12 initiatives in their emergency department to learn about and engage with different aspects of patient experience. One goal was to improve the waiting room experience. Through specific and focused surveys, they discovered that increasing communication and being realistic about wait times improved patients’ overall experience. This, in turn, improved their CAHPS (Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) scores.
4. Follow through with service recovery
Never overlook the importance and impact of service recovery.
A patient’s satisfaction doubles if their negative feedback is directly addressed — something a lot of organizations fail to do. Feedtrail’s platform has several ways to support this.
Through automated notifications, the right people are made aware of concerns as soon as they arise. This is done through intelligent filtering, a software component within Feedtrail’s patient experience platform which quickly and efficiently processes and sorts out pertinent information.
Feedtrail users can also set up templates so that, if teams or individuals are busy or unable to answer concerns right away, standardized responses are sent to the patient when their feedback does not require immediate attention or resolution.
Even if their feedback is not directly addressed, immediately acknowledging patient concerns goes a long way toward reaffirming an organization’s commitment to delivering positive experiences.
Measuring patient loyalty
After surveying the market, Feedtrail found that NPS has become the benchmark used to demonstrate patient experience impact.
NPS is a universal metric used by companies to measure an individual’s loyalty to an organization or brand. NPS is straightforward, modern, short, and sweet and has high completion rates. As the gold standard, NPS rates customer satisfaction based on one simple question: “How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?”
NPS then categorizes its respondents based on their rating from 1 to 10. If a patient rates a clinic or facility between zero and six, they’re identified as a detractor, or someone who would not be willing to recommend the healthcare service to someone else. If they select a seven or eight, NPS qualifies the patient as a passive respondent, meaning they are satisfied but not enough to recommend the facility. A patient who responds with nine or ten is considered a promoter, or someone who would willingly recommend the service to a friend or family member.
After focusing on improving their NPS score, one of Feedtrail’s clients saw a 12x ROI, added more than $300,000 of additional revenue in a single year, and saved $234,000 in potential lost revenue by recovering dissatisfied patients.
Feedtrail’s correlation analysis tool can also confirm how patient experience positively influences an organization’s NPS. This helps direct organizations on where to spend their time and resources.
Turn loyal patients into public promoters
Loyal patients are one of your most valuable resources. One happy patient can extend a provider’s reach by up to 22 new patients. Turning loyal patients into public promoters not only drives brand reputation but also brings in more revenue.
Feedtrail’s Reputation Management Module allows healthcare providers to better leverage their promoters. The platform gives providers the option to automatically send promoter patients to their social review sites, increasing the likelihood of patient reviews (and positive ones at that).
CHOC serves as another example of this module’s success. After the hospital activated the Reputation Management module, they received 44 five-star reviews in the first month of use. Prior to that, they had averaged less than 20 three-star reviews a month. By leveraging the Reputation Management module, CHOC was able to up their social proof with ease.
There’s no greater selling point than happy patients
From the large hospital settings to the smaller, privately owned practices and clinics, Feedtrail knows the power of patient satisfaction and loyalty. It’s the best way to retain patients and yield more profits. Above all, however, happy and satisfied patients are a true testament to the work of caregivers and professionals within these organizations and the attention paid to patients receiving care.