Healthcare is a Business
Two pillars support large practices
- Acquiring new patients, and
- Patient retention/AKA “Patient Loyalty”
You already know how to acquire new patients. If you didn’t, you’d never have survived your first year in practice.
But … let me suggest that getting new patients can make you feel like a hamster, running on a wheel, if you’re losing them nearly as fast as you’re acquiring them.
Change this by “closing the back door” and watch your practice grow, measurably faster, with no extra effort trying to get more new patients. Closing the back door is like building a dam across a stream to create an ever-expanding reservoir … your patient base.
When I learned this secret, I took the appropriate steps to boost my patient retention, AKA, Patient Loyalty.
Doing so took my own patient retention number from 9 to 29 in just a few months … more than triple! I watched my practice grow. And it grew some more … and then more. Within just a few years, I found myself working four successful practices.
We can calculate patient retention precisely. It’s “visits per new patient”.
To calculate your retention (your “Patient Loyalty”), divide the total number of visits by the number of new patients in the same time-period.
For instance: If you have 500 patient visits in a month, and fifty new patients in that same month, your retention would be 10 … 500 divided by 50.
If you again had 50 new patients, but your retention rate were 20 instead of just 10, your total patient visits would be 1,000 for the month instead of just 500 … doubled; without one single extra new patient. In both scenarios, you only had 50 new patients.
Boost retention and boost your practice … exponentially.
What steps can you take to reliably increase Patient Loyalty? It’s an actual science.
Practice consultants tell us that patient retention comes from patient education. That’s close, but it’s not exactly right. According to statistics, a lack of communication from the doctor is the number one stated reason that patients leave a practice.
It’s not because the patients got well. It’s not because they’re still in pain. It’s not because the price is too high. And it’s not because they had to come in X number of times.
It’s because the doctor wasn’t communicating with them. The word “doctor” means “teacher”. They expect that from us. Stay in touch. Tell them what they need to know.
The challenge most chiropractors have is that they just don’t have the time to invest in meaningful conversations with patients. It teaches patients to linger in the treatment room. That backs up your schedule. Then you lose credibility.
And then, after a full day of working with patients, most of us need to stop and regenerate instead of calling or emailing our patients into the evening hours or on weekends.
I’m Dr. Rick Boatright, D.C. I practiced for 33 years. Now I’m semiretired and I write. I’ve been writing for years – ever since I learned about this retention secret. I especially love writing to patients.
But I realize that not all doctors enjoy that. And not all doctors want to take the time, spend the effort or learn the marketing secrets of direct-response copywriting.
There IS a secret to doing this, however. For nearly ten years I wrote off the top of my head. I thought I was was writing good marketing copy, friendly and conversational. But my retention number was at nine. So, I was missing something.
With retention below 13, a practice struggles to stay alive. Retention from 14 to 24 represents a viable practice, but not much steady growth.
Ideally, a chiropractic office should be at 30 or more to enjoy a vibrant, healthy, increase over time.
In 2012, I took up the study of copywriting (“writing copy”, not “copy-righting ©”).
I learned how to write pieces that get an immediate response. That’s what helped me turn the corner.
To capsulize: the second-most effective non-face-to-face communication with people is email (right behind texting). Then social media.
A small investment in these areas brings a big return.
10 new patients with a retention of 10 gives you 100 patient visits. The same 10 new patients with a retention of 30 gives you 300 patient visits.
So, retention is more important to total visits than new patients! And I can show you how to boost this Patient Loyalty number.
There’s an immense value in setting up a series of emails in an “autoresponder.” Put a new patient’s name in your contacts list and the autoresponder does the rest.
You, the sender, determine the date- interval and you determine what each email says. We write the series once and the autoresponder sends the series out, in sequence, to every new patient when we add them to our list.
There are four kinds of emails. Each is designed to get a specific response. So there are lots of possibilities.
They all communicate with your patients, addressing them by their first name. And they can all have YOUR name at the bottom.
With autoresponders, YOU stay in touch … on a regular basis … but without investing extra, valuable time and effort, over and over again.
There are also secrets for getting your e-newsletter read over a snail-mail piece. That’s the next logical step after your autoresponder series.
Keeping in touch with a one-page e-newsletter once a month keeps you in the forefront of patients’ minds.
Do it electronically and it’s a matter of creating the letter and then clicking once to send it to everybody at the same time. It creates a powerful presence in their awareness.
Regular communication equals more loyalty. Scientifically.
But it has to be personal – not canned.
These two approaches alone … an autoresponder series and an e-newsletter … can catapult your retention. IF we don’t inadvertently sabotage our own efforts.
We warn our patients not to let friends “pop their joints.” The advice is sound. Having a professional is always the best bet.
The same holds true for writing to your patients. It involves more than just writing off the tops of our heads.
Remember, your retention number is your “Loyalty Number.” To boost your total visits, keep more of the patients you already have. Do that by staying in touch.
Save time and effort. Stop wasting marketing dollars that produce such small returns. As a professional, I want to create a personalized package for your practice.
Eight emails for your autoresponder, over a period of eight weeks introduce you and your practice to new patients. It brings them in to your practice-family and initiates loyalty.
The first one goes out the first night, after the patient exam.
Once the patient is on your computer list, this happens automatically. You never have to think about it.
The next one also goes out a few days later but still in the first week.
The next four go out weekly for one month.
The last two go out every other week for a month.
So you’re always in their awareness, but you’re more and more considerate about THEIR time.
Follow that autoresponder series up immediately with a monthly e-newsletter FROM YOUR PRACTICE. I can write that for you. You don’t want send some canned, generic thing that’s cold and impersonal.
Transfer names from the autoresponder series to the e-newsletter list as a standard, patient-management procedure.
Keep your patients educated on the latest things YOU’RE learning and the coming events in your own practice. Keep the communication from YOU. Keep it interesting, and they’ll actually read it … then ACT on it.
Or pick just one strategy if you’re on a budget. I also have an editing service if you just want a pro to review what you write.
The bottom line is that I’m here to serve you. I want to help you shore up that second pillar of your practice … Patient Loyalty. Because THAT’s where your long-term success lies.
Call me. I know how to pick the right wording. I know the right sequence to get the response you’re looking for. I’m a professional. Together, we can make a major impact on your total visits without any significant changes in the number of new patients you have to find.
PLUS! … It’s MY time and writing efforts, rather than yours. You just keep on being the doctor. Use a fellow chiropractic marketing professional to kick your marketing up a notch.
Don’t worry, I guarantee satisfaction with my work.
I’m Dr. Rick Boatright, D.C. I’m a lifetime member of the American Writers and Artists, Inc. Circle of Success and an active member of the Professional Writers Alliance. My specialty as a certified copywriter is writing for the alternative health field.
Visit my website to see a more complete array of services I offer. www.chiropracticcopywriter.com
Call or text me at (928) 243-5665. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
P.S. I can also help with Facebook ads, banner ads, pay-per-click ads, ad inserts, content, web pages and more. But email and an e-newsletter package is where I recommend starting. Boost your Patient Loyalty to make your new patient visits even more significant to your bottom line!