New opportunities for revenue and practice growth
It is far easier and more cost-effective to retain your current patients than it is to acquire new ones. In addition, as an added benefit, utilizing your current satisfied customer base for word-of-mouth advertising (referrals) just makes good business sense.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t always be marketing to keep your practice front-of-mind — what you need to be careful of is not putting all your marketing dollars into acquisition, but splitting those dollars between acquisition and retention. Measuring and taking steps to keep patient losses to a minimum should be the cornerstone of your patient attraction and retention approach.
Patient retention and acquisition plan development
The Whole Package
It is important to remember the entire experience, even before a patient enters the office, begins to impart a positive or negative influence on whether they will return another time. Your entire staff, including those booking appointments, greeting, checking in/out and billing must be engaging, empathetic, knowledgeable and pleasant. You as the practitioner must also provide exceptional quality of care to your patients; the combined effect is where your current patients become fans and tell others.
The patient experience is everything. Respectful and thorough treatment, as well as calling to follow up, are ways to go above expectations. Trying to have an inviting waiting room that’s not antiseptic but more like home than a doctor’s office is a great first step. Consider spending half an hour in it to gain a fresh perspective on what could be improved upon. See to it that there are enough parking spaces, and that your hours extend beyond usual business hours at least one day a week in order to open up time for more patients who have rigorous work schedules.
No two patients are the same. Ask plentiful questions, take the time to do a proper examination, then create a personalized treatment plan for your patient to show you value their individuality and are respectful of their care and time. If you send any messages through an online secure portal, always include their name in order to convey that same message that they are not just a droplet in a sea of patients.
Consider payment options
Oftentimes chiropractic may not be included within insurance plans. This is where offering more flexible payment options can make a real impact. In addition to full up-front payment, consider creating your own payment plans that break up the total cost into more manageable chunks, or working with a health care financing company.
Take advantage of technology
One of the major sweeping advantages of improvements in technology is simplifying and shortening the time and effort it takes to go about a wide variety of tasks. For instance, online scheduling for an appointment is not only accessible at any time of day, but is quicker and often easier than scheduling over the phone within limited hours. Updating, editing and moving appointments is much more streamlined as well. Regardless of whether you take a virtual approach, ensure the process is a quick and easy one that only takes a few minutes.
You can also offer certain required forms that may take time in the waiting room in advance for patients. A portal just for your practice, perhaps as part of or linked to your website, may be the perfect location to include all of these resources for patients.
Another option to consider is adding automated appointment reminders, preferably via text message.
Enhance your website
The website you create should be professional; and no, that does not mean expensive. There are many modern tools available to help you craft a website that will provide enough information, including photos, to help you create a well-rounded synopsis of your mission and team. Key information, such as phone number, address and hours, should be by no means hard to find. Additionally, take the steps to ensure your website has a mobile version so it is not unusably distorted on smaller screens.
Claim your Google business
Create a Google business listing. This is a streamlined pop-up of your business which includes critical information. You can also include a direct link to navigate to your practice. While this may perhaps seem like a small thing, it can have a significant impact because it is incredibly useful and little effort is needed to access it.
Sending a survey after a patient visits is an invaluable way to learn more about their experience, what went right and more importantly, if anything went wrong. Without surveys measuring a patient’s satisfaction, it will be difficult to gauge, modify or continue on the right track. Make sure the survey is not too time-consuming, while also covering all the key information you seek. This will make your patients feel valued and is also an excellent way of nurturing the patient to practice communication.
Empower through education
Your marketing strategy should include a blog where you provide reasonably digestible information to patients on certain topics, conditions and treatments. Use media to connect, educate and direct to your blog. The old saying is “a picture is worth a thousand words.” So, what would a short video be worth?
Financial value of a patient
Let’s say you follow our advice and succeed at not only patient retention but also patient attraction. What is the payoff? The Corporate Finance Institute says, “The customer lifetime value (LTV), also known as lifetime value, is the total revenue a company expects to earn over the lifetime of their relationship with a single customer.”1
An internet search in a chiropractic office provides a wide range of answers, with the majority of them over $1,000. The following presents an exercise to calculate the possible LTV of a patient.
- Chiropractic Economics 2023 Salary and Expense Survey noted, “Our average respondent patient-visit average (PVA) is $60.30.”2
- Many patients visit a chiropractor for the first time for an acute issue. It is reasonable they will be seen for a number of weeks as part of their care plan; 10-12 visits is reasonable and is well within what most insurance plans allow per year.
- Multiplying number 1 by number 2 results in $603 to $723.60.
- If that patient converts to monthly wellness care, that would be at least another 12 visits per year worth $723.60 for each year of wellness care.
- If a patient purchases over-the-counter orthotics, that could add up to $100. If they elect to have custom orthotics made, that could add $300+.
- If a patient purchases CBD, laser therapy, decompression or other modalities and products, that could add up to hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
- We have not even considered all the referrals the patient will send your way. Each of them could be worth over $1,000.
Conclusion: It is relatively easy to surpass $1,000 LTV.
Following the methods outlined in this article will improve your patient retention, but it will also engender patient attraction. The “pièce de résistance” specifically for patient attraction is to get in the habit of asking every new patient how they found and ultimately scheduled an appointment with your practice. This will provide excellent information showing you where to more robustly put in your resources.
Using data from the same Chiropractic Economics survey, we find the average practice attracts eight new patients each week.2 Imagine how many more patients you will attract using the techniques above. Plus, you will raise your patient retention level.
ROB BERMAN is a partner at Berman Partners LCC, a medical device sales, service and marketing company. Berman Partners specializes in new and pre-owned therapeutic lasers. He also is a partner at Energia Medical LLC, which specializes in light therapy products. He helps doctors improve patient outcomes while increasing their income. He has held a variety of marketing roles during his career. He can be contacted at 860-707-4220 or email@example.com, or through bermanpartners.com.
CINDY DONALDSON is CEO of Red Barn Consulting LLC, a strategic marketing, sales and business operations consulting firm located in Connecticut. Red Barn’s niche is working with small- to medium-size companies helping them find their voice, tell their stories and increase revenues by creating and implementing strategic processes and aligning them with innovative marketing and sales plans. Niche markets include health care, insurance and banking. Donaldson can be reached at 860-469-8090 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Red Barn Consulting, visit redbarnconsultingllc.com.
- Corporate Finance Institute. Lifetime value calculation. CFI website. https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/valuation/lifetime-value-calculation/. Accessed Nov. 12, 2023.
- Payne AP. Dips and jumps in 2023: The 26th Annual Salary and Expense Survey. Chiropractic Economics website. https://www.chiroeco.com/dips-and-jumps-the-26th-annual-salary-expense-survey. Accessed Nov. 12, 2023.