Mixing education and ‘infotainment’ for a patient reactivation strategy that returns ideal patients to the office
The critical part of a successful patient reactivation campaign is to first identify the ideal patient types you want to reactivate. The problem with most offices is they attempt to reactivate 100% of the patients who quit coming to your office.
This sounds good in theory, but some patients do not value your service, some cannot pay for the service, or you may not be able to help certain patients. Automated reactivation campaigns have some success, but the best ones include more than three attempts to reach out to them with a message that will urge them to return to your office. Reaching out to them through different media (email, text, Facebook, phone call, direct mail, etc.) is even better.
Strong messaging and offers
I often see offices with lame messaging and offers with no reason to act. Think about your last dentist’s office you were a patient at; if they offered you a free examination, would you jump off the couch and pick up the phone to give them a call?
The message would be ignored if things were OK with their current dentist. But they might respond if they were very unhappy with their current dentist’s office and it was time to check their teeth. However, a more robust offer from the old dentist’s office might entice the old patient to return, even if they weren’t upset with the current dentist’s office. Think about a free examination, X-rays and teeth whitening. Yes, that sounds like they are giving it away, but if you only sent this to your ideal patient, why wouldn’t you make it irresistible?
A strong offer without appropriate follow-up isn’t very successful. Think about an email or mail offer that you intended to take action on but forgot after you got busy. Your old patients are the same because good follow-up won’t double your response rate; it will usually be 10X your initial response rate. That’s why I also recommend multiple ways to respond, which I’ll mention later.
Don’t let patients forget
There are many reasons why patients quit coming to your practice, but the number one reason they stop is usually that they forgot about you. They didn’t have as much pain anymore and forgot to make a follow-up appointment.
Reasons why patients quit coming to your office:
- They forgot about you;
- They found a new resource/solution to their problem. This could be another chiropractor, but it could be massage, physical therapy, injections, surgery, medications, an inversion table, supplements, home therapy products, etc.;
- Lousy product (you were not getting them better);
- Lousy service (your staff or outside billing company offended them);
- Moved away;
- Price (or lack of insurance coverage).
Most think that price is the number one reason, but the main reason is they forgot. Aside from reason number five, the others can be improved upon. For the price, it’s rarely about price; it’s about the perceived value of your treatment and finding the patients who have value for your service.
Lousy service can be fixed by having service-oriented, empathetic people who are well-trained. If you hire the right people and have good people around them with great systems, it’s easy to offer good service. A lousy product can be improved by accurate diagnosis and improved treatment protocols. You don’t have to be a one-stop shop for everything, and if you do not offer exercises to improve function, maybe you can find providers in your area that you can refer to, and they will probably refer back.
For example, if your patient requires a lumbar facet ablation, consider referring them out for that; back when I was busy in practice, I would get several referrals a month from medical providers. Many of them did not understand what an excellent referral to me was, so I taught them. I also asked them what types of cases they wanted as referrals. I understood that I couldn’t fix everything. The pain management doctor educated me about procedures they offered, and I educated their staff about chiropractic. I actually treated many of their administrative staff and received many referrals from their front desk administrator over the years. The point of this is that by doing what was best for the patient, they stayed, paid and continued referring, and I gained more referrals by co-treating with other types of providers.
How do you prevent patients from forgetting about you? My favorite patient reactivation method is a monthly recurring membership for patients who have finished my care plans. It increases the value of your business if you were to sell it, and those patients are the most straightforward and appreciative in your practice. In addition, they are likely your advocates in your community and will refer more than other patients. I like to send weekly or at least monthly emails with the information they care about, but I always add my personality to every piece of content.
Patient reactivation: mixing education and ‘infotainment’
Most think it’s all about education, but you must mix in “infotainment” (information and entertainment) with your patients.
Share relevant stories about yourself and what you’re doing personally to improve your health. For example, share a healthy smoothie and why drinking one is important. It doesn’t have to be all about chiropractic; some of them could be informative with home exercises for shoulder or neck pain. You can send them a birthday card, email or text. You could have a patient appreciation event.
Ideally, you have done a great job clinically with excellent customer service. You have stayed in touch with patients to minimize the dropouts, but just in case people drop out, here’s what you have to consider when sending your messages.
- Identify who has become inactive;
- Remove patients who are not ideal (out of the area, inability to pay, inability to help, rude, etc.);
- Create a campaign theme and the reason why you are reaching out (i.e., they haven’t been in lately). It could be an evergreen without a monthly theme, but if you could tie it into the month, a personal event, or a funny reason, you’ll get a better result. For example, if it’s in September, it could be a “fall back into health” theme, October could be a Halloween theme, and November could be about giving thanks to all your patients;
- Have a deadline; nothing happens without a deadline. Once you determine when this offer ends, you can choose your patient reactivation campaign’s start date;
- Have a compliant offer; this is what you’re offering the old patient for returning to your office. Lame offers get lame responses; my mentor always told me you should be uncomfortable with the offer if it’s a good one. But, again, segmenting your list is crucial because you only offer this to your ideal patients. You’re not offering this to an old out-of-network patient who received your insurance checks and never returned them;
- Create the content: postcards, letters, emails, text messages, phone scripts, etc.;
- Send out the campaign and follow up with phone calls.
This sounds like work, and I’d be lying if it wasn’t, but once you’ve created one of these, you can re-use it year after year. It’s worth the effort because you’ll get a better response rate and fill your practice with better patients. Segmenting is also vital if you’re calling and/or mailing these people because it will reduce your mailing costs and labor costs with the follow-up.
If you’re looking for some content ideas, I wrote up a generic patient reactivation campaign you could use in any month of the year about preventative care. This could be sent via email and text, but I recommend adding phone calls to this campaign. Any time you can add another touchpoint, it is ideal, but this is an easy one. See below for details.
NAOTA HASHIMOTO, DC, is the co-founder of TrackStat, which is patient tracking software making it easy for administrative people to attract and convert new patients while ensuring your existing patients stay in your practice. It offers new ways to retain patients and also offers ways for staff to communicate and schedule patients while providing you all the metrics of success. Please visit trackstat.org/reactivation if you want to download a free template to reactivate your patients.