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How Emphasizing Patient Retention Assists Medical Practices

An Overview of Acquisition Versus Retention

 

Customer Acquisition Versus Retention

Customer Acquisition Versus Retention

In “Retention vs. Acquisition: The Power of Patient Relationships,” Kathy Roy Gaughran shares insights into promoting medical practices effectively. She serves as the Senior Marketing Strategist at Healthcare Success Strategies. Her advice helps medical practices generate more revenues. In her article, she suggests some helpful tips for focusing physician marketing efforts to enhance profits.

Retention Assists Medical Practices

Ms. Gaughran maintains that physicians enjoy greater profitability for their medical practices by focusing most of their efforts on retaining existing clients and marketing services to them. She argues that retention rather than new client acquisition offers physicians a more cost-effective course of action in most cases. Her position reflects the growing importance of relationship marketing concepts in modern practice management. Indeed, she draws her conclusions from observing current retail marketing trends.

 

Develop a Medical Practice

Develop a Medical Practice

Two Ways to Develop a Medical Practice

Of course, Ms. Gaughran does not suggest that physicians should stop seeking new patients. She notes that both acquisition of new customers and retention of existing patients matter as ways to expand the revenues of any medical practice. However, she believes the evidence clearly supports “internal marketing” to the current client base as more lucrative over the long term, in most cases.

A Lesson From Retailers

She believes that the experience of many retailers offers valuable assistance to people marketing medical practices. For instance, she notes that studies have shown that just increasing customer retention by 5% leads to a 95% greater profitability in numerous retail settings. This result occurs in part because businesses must expend less money to retain the loyalty of an existing customer than to obtain additional patrons. This consideration translated into a medical environment implies that physicians should consider their professional relationship with their patient base as very vital, she argues.

 

Internal Business Promotion

Internal Business Promotion

A Clear Retail Example

Another clear example of the power of marketing from a retention (versus an acquisition) standpoint emerges in the way publishers promote magazine subscriptions. Ms. Gaughran illustrates a typical approach. A company may expend considerable resources endeavoring to persuade an existing subscriber to extend a magazine subscription for several years into the future. Sometimes sellers even offer attractive gifts as premiums to encourage their existing customers to take this step and become long term patrons.

The Power of Internal Retail Marketing

She notes that many people will choose to sign up for a multi-year magazine subscription, attracted by a gift offer. This form of “internal marketing” permits the company to transform a good customer into an excellent, dedicated and long term one. It fosters the development of a business relationship over the course of years.

 

Patient Retention

Patient Retention

Patient Retention Helps Practice Revenues

Just as magazine publishers may benefit from developing customer relationships for long periods of time, medical practices can also enhance their bottom lines by working to retain patients. She believes that patient retention clearly “trumps” the cultivation of new clients from a business standpoint. Why? Because the process of developing a new customer costs between six to seven times as much as simply retaining a satisfied existing patron.

Four Reasons to Emphasize Internal Marketing

Physicians gain four distinct advantages by stressing internal marketing efforts within a medical practice. These include:

• Existing patients will be more ready to invest in additional services;
• They often furnish referrals to physicians;
• It is not necessary to spend money to recruit existing patients;
• Their trust in their physician makes them more inclined to accept additional new services.

 

Comfort Zones

Comfort Zones

Physician Comfort Zones

Ms. Gaughran observes that many physicians discover they personally prefer internal marketing over recruiting new patients. It may prove easier for a doctor to discuss additional services and other options with existing patients, people they already know. Since a relationship of trust and mutual respect already exists, the physician does not face as many initial barriers to presenting details about the availability of additional medical services, for instance.

Don’t Overlook Acquiring New Patients

The need to stress internal marketing does not mean that a medical practice should overlook the development of new patients, however. This activity also represents an important way to grow a professional practice. Yet she suggests that new client acquisition should not become the sole marketing function of a professional practice. Everyone in the practice should work to retain existing clients.

 

Relationship Marketing

Relationship Marketing

Advantages of Existing Relationship Marketing

Ms. Gaughran suggests that simply redirecting the focus of medical practice marketing from developing new patients to retaining existing ones holds potentially lucrative benefits for physicians. This paradigm shift can greatly assist a practice over a longer period of time. Existing patients who already visit a medical office usually respond favorably to internal marketing strategies and help the practice thrive.

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Article provided by Neches FCU, an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer.

Neches FCU is one of the top Texas credit unions and has an attentive team of professionals ready to serve our members. When its doors open at any of the nine service centers, the aim of “Ultimate Member Satisfaction” becomes the sole focus for every staff member. They are well-respected for a personal, dynamic and positive work environment, delivering a memorable service experience, and where all clients are known personally. Neches has about $438 Million in assets with over 45,000 members. Neches FCU is considered by members and the business community as one of the best credit unions in Texas and an actively involved partner, helping our Family, Friends and Community!

 

Improve Your Technician’s Efficiency with Templates

Introduction

 

The power of Templates

The power of Templates

Dr. Traci Fritz, COE, suggests a thoughtful strategy for increasing profits in ophthalmology practices in her article “Using Templates to Improve Technician Efficiency.” A member of the Academy of Ophthalmology, she draws upon her own experience in her practice to suggest that developing more templates may ultimately enhance patient care and professional reputation.

What is a Template?

 

Medical Templates

Medical Templates

She explains that a template basically consists of a form developed by observing successful repeating situations. For example, many time management experts recommend using templates to schedule appointments in the most productive way. Insurance companies to some extent impose templates upon business offices, by asking them to follow specific steps in filing claims. These types of forms can benefit every department in an ophthalmology practice, she maintains.

An Illustration of a Template in a Ophthalmology Practice

In her case, Dr. Fritz notes that her practice developed more than 20 new templates covering a variety of procedures and surgeries. Staff members paid attention to situations which recurred frequently in order to formulate the best way of handling each scenario. These written guidelines function as a checklist, indicating questions that should be posed to patients in the treatment room and correct diagnostic and treatment protocols in a clear, consistent, orderly fashion. Technicians initial each step to clearly indicate the satisfactory completion of each essential designated step in this process.

The Special Challenge Facing Technicians

Medical Challenges

Medical Challenges

Although business and administrative departments in some ophthalmology practices widely utilize templates already, technicians in particular can often improve their time management and efficiency (and thus the profitability of the practice) by developing new templates and employing them in day to day operations. Dr. Fritz observes that sometimes technicians face a temptation to rely upon memory instead of rigorously adhering to the template; she urges staff members to resist that tendency. By applying every step in a template every single time, the technicians in a practice avoid errors and omissions that might impair patient care. This disciplined approach prevents mistakes.

Expanding the Clinical Use of Templates

For example, templates may assist technicians in taking a medical history. By asking important questions and then initialing a form to document that the information has been obtained from a patient, the technician helps ensure that vital information reaches the ophthalmologist. This step maximizes the efficiency of both the physician and the technician. As a result, the ophthalmologist can reduce time spent consulting with the patient. It permits ophthalmologists to rely more extensively upon the delegation of tasks. This situation, in turn, allows the practice to treat more patients, ultimately increasing revenues.

Two Illustrations of Clinical Templates

Clinical Templates

Clinical Templates

For example, Dr. Fritz describes benefits to her practice when the staff developed three templates for very frequent surgeries. They reduced several repeatable steps involved in dealing with corrective laser surgery, corneal surgery and cataract surgery into templates. Using these tools greatly improved efficiency and practice revenues. The templates also meant that every important step in care delivery occurred in a systematic, orderly manner.

Enhancing Organization With Templates

Dr. Fritz points out that asking technicians to establish and follow organizational templates can also benefit a practice. For instance, a template can direct the first half hour of the day, the critical 30 minutes before the first scheduled appointment. During this important period, staff members can attend to important office clinical tasks that sometimes fall by the wayside: making sure that appointment rooms are fully stocked with supplies, sanitizing and calibrating essential equipment and tools and making last minute inspections for cleanliness.

Organizational Templates Require Time Frames

She recommends that every task in an organizational template include a time frame, since some aspects of organization may require weekly rather than daily attention. For example, it may only be necessary to re-order particular office supplies one day a week. By adding a time frame for each essential step in the template, the staff can maximize their efficiency. They can help ensure that the practice will function seamlessly, without running out of essential inventories or wasting time during appointments fetching essential treatment supplies from another room; time can be spent more effectively in furnishing high-quality patient care.

The Importance of Communication

Importance of Communication

Importance of Communication

 

It remains essential for ophthalmologists to communicate their expectations regarding the use of templates to technicians and other staff members, Dr. Fritz believes. By helping all members of the treatment team appreciate the importance to the practice of the template tool, doctors reinforce the use of templates in office culture. Patients and practice profitability both benefit from this approach. Enhanced efficiency allows the practice to maintain a high quality of care and treat more patients, thus expanding profitability.

Conclusion

Dr. Fritz concludes that time management principles may benefit a practice. By performing small daily tasks in a consistent, repeatable manner, staff members can us templates to improve efficiency.

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