In ophthalmology – as in most industries — it’s much more difficult and expensive to recruit a new customer than it is to retain current ones. Therefore, businesses tend to be benefit from providing great service and developing long-term relationships rather than reaching out to new patients.
But unlike in most industries, most surgical patients don’t return again and again. Instead, they refer friends and family.
An informed and engaged patient is a happy patient, and happy patients share their positive experiences with friends and family. Thus, ensuring all your patients are informed, engaged and happy is essential in driving your word-of-mouth marketing.
Of course, this is a lot easier said than done. Fortunately, developing a few new habits and committing to creating a protocol of patient engagement doesn’t require much effort.
We’ve even outlined a few ideas for you to try below!
1. Take notes
When we say “notes,” we’re not talking about the basic information we record for patients in the EMR. While it is obviously important to take those types of notes, we are referring to the tidbits that allow each staff member to “wow” your patients, and really make them feel listened to.
Some practices may choose to gather this information through lifestyle questionnaires, or surveys that help you gauge each patient’s unique needs. Once you understand your patient’s needs, you can provide them with a customized solution and a truly remarkable experience.
2. Share the right information
Every time you interact with the patient, you should be providing them with meaningful information. From the first time a patient calls and asks for an appointment to the last time he or she visits the office, your goal should be to convey value and understanding.
Incorporating this tip into your workflow can be easy. We recommend acquiring brochures, inserts, videos, and workbooks to share with the patient during each step of their journey. It’s that easy!
3. Follow up
Once a patient has finished his or her surgical process, it may be tempting to add them to the “do not contact” pile. But consider this – in choosing you as their provider, patients have elected to develop a long-term relationship with you and your practice. By honoring that relationship through follow-up, we continue to foster positive experiences and create another great opportunity to ask for referrals, feedback, and more.
Your follow-up system doesn’t need to be complex. It can be as basic as sending a birthday or surgical anniversary card, or as complex as a well-developed email campaign. Some practices enjoy throwing patient appreciation events, or simply sending a “thank you.” Whatever it is, your follow-up process should be thoughtful and deliberate.
To develop these processes takes time and planning so like all things marketing, be sure to incorporate this into your strategy for the greatest chances at success.