While acquiring new patients is usually the goal, one of the most powerful yet overlooked marketing tools in your practice is your existing patient database. These patients already know and trust you and your practice but it might just take a simple tap on the shoulder to remind them. Staying in touch with past patients is essential so they know who to turn to when they or someone they know is in need of your services. Let’s take a look at 3 ways your practice can keep in touch easily and effectively.
Patient Recall & Reactivation Campaigns
Recall campaigns are simply a way to communicate with past patients through a variety of channels. Whether it’s via old-fashioned postal mail or email, recall campaigns help you reach out to your existing patients to remind them of your practice and services. Send a general reminder recall or better yet, target your existing patients by diagnosis and educate them on why it is critical to stay on top of their health. While we don’t want to bombard our patients with junk mail, make sure to consistently send a gentle reminder with enough time in between. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a very real concept and sometimes a reminder is all it takes to see old patients back in the office.
Top methods of patient recall are:
Phone call: a simple phone call often works the best. This is a great way to quickly get people scheduled, particularly if you get them on the line and can book an appointment right then and there. Sometimes there is a fear that our call will be viewed as an annoyance, but in our experience, most patients appreciate it and are glad to know we are thinking of them. Many times they’ll say they had been meaning to call and are glad you beat them to it. Consider hiring a staff member or outsourcing to an agency like ours to make these calls for a few hours in the evenings after the office closes. Don’t balk at the extra payroll expense or the cost of the agency; if you get even one visit scheduled from those calls, the revenue it will generate will more than cover your costs, and over the course of a few hours it is highly likely you will get more than one patient on the schedule.
Text message: this is being used increasingly to connect rapidly to patients who are averse to picking up the phone
Email: a quick email is a cost-effective way to connect to patients to remind them to schedule an appointment, and you can track the results of campaigns and followup by phone if patients view the email but don’t react to the call to action
For a more consistent mode of communication, and even as a supplement to your phone recall campaigns, send your patient database a monthly or quarterly e-newsletter. E-newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with patients while also educating them about topics they are interested in – just be sure to keep the content interesting. Use blog posts, popular and relevant events, FAQ’s, practice announcements and more to fill the pages of your newsletter. Make sure your front desk is doing what they can to collect & verify email addresses and be sure to easily and simply allow your patients to opt out if they wish.
You may also want to consider hosting an open house for patients occasionally. Think once per quarter or twice a year. This allows you to show patients you care, it gives them an opportunity to ask questions in an informal setting and to learn more about all the other services you offer. Often, these events are educational, or a health check. Consider doing a health check educational event in partnership with another practice- a perfect example is bringing in a sleep medicine physician for a talk about sleep apnea, and provide resources such as a checklist of sleep apnea symptoms and risks. This provides value to the patient attending, and strengthens rapport with the physician you invited to speak. You can also address a group of your best patients with a few minute speech at some point during the event and let them know about everything your practice offers right there on the spot. It’s direct marketing at its finest, literally.