By Terri Ross, Terri Ross Consulting
Patient retention is a very powerful—and sometimes overlooked—way to rapidly expand your medical aesthetics practice. Why? Because once you’ve captured the interest of your patient population, the hard work is done. At this point, making genuine connections and encouraging them to take action are your primary goals. They can be achieved through engaging conversation, personalized treatment plans and intentional follow-up. Patient retention is directly correlated with how well your front office staff performs, their ability to educate and, more importantly, how well the consultation is conducted by the medical provider.
Is every staff member in your office engaging, direct and knowledgeable of the services and treatment plans you offer? (Click here to read more about the LAER model I developed for staff training.) Another key aspect of patient retention is related to your brand as a medical aesthetic office—i.e. the level at which you perform, as evidenced by a top notch facility, expertise, state-of-the-art equipment and marketing efforts that match the brand. Sophisticated and educational marketing materials relay a consistent message to your patient population—they should choose you for their medical aesthetics needs.
Why Is Patient Retention So Important?
Focusing on your current patient population is the best way to rapidly increase your profitability. Invest in high-quality staff, branding and technology, and gear these elements towards encouraging your current patients to take action. Research shows that increasing your patient retention by 5% increases your profitability by more than 25%. The concept is simple: your current patient population, including both new and established patients, has already expressed some level of interest in your practice. Your goal now is to capitalize on this interest, gain their trust and guide them toward taking action—whether that is scheduling a consultation appointment or moving forward with a personalized treatment plan that includes multiple treatments; this will do two things: ensure a better outcome and protect their investment.
Key Elements to Maximize Patient Retention
Engaging staff: Every member of your front office staff should strive to make a connection with your patients, both new and established. As outlined in my LAER model for staff training, it is critical that your front office staff listens, engages and responds to patient questions and needs. They should be proactive in their patient interactions. Ask a new patient if they’d like to read some new literature on the procedure in which they expressed interest. Ask an established patient if they’re interested in a new promotion that would extend their current treatment plan.
In addition to being proactive, your front office staff should be knowledgeable about all aspects of the treatments you offer and the aesthetics industry as a whole. Having had the pleasure of working with many practices, I know this is one area that is sadly overlooked. Staff members should know what procedures and treatments you offer, how they can be incorporated into a treatment plan, and how they compare to your competitors. It is critical that your staff is capable of discussing your technology and services, so that patients are encouraged to choose your practice over another. Patients want to feel like their needs are not only being met, but also being exceeded. This is what makes that lasting impression—the one that makes new patients commit to a treatment plan and keeps established patients coming back, year after year.
Consistent marketing: Be consistent in your marketing efforts. Find your niche in the market of medical aesthetics practices and commit to it. This applies to everything—from the font style of your website to your business statement to your appointment cards. Patients want to feel like they’re coming back to a familiar place when they visit your office or website. This familiarity is established by an inviting atmosphere, sophisticated décor, office-branded brochures and pamphlets, regular e-newsletters, and a streamlined and informative website.
- Office space: The physical structure of your medical aesthetic office—including the building, exterior sign, interior waiting area and treatment areas—sets the tone of your patient’s experience. The waiting area is where your patient’s experience begins and ends. An inviting, sophisticated and well-conceived space can create a familiar environment to which patients want to return. Clean, accommodating treatment areas, equipped with cutting-edge technology, convey a clear message of expertise and professionalism to your patients. The bottom line is this: If a patient enjoys their experience in your office and receives top-notch, personalized care, they will return.
- Technology: Commit to being the expert in your niche of the medical aesthetics field and acquire the equipment to make it happen. Align your passion and expertise with the newest technology and make it available to your patients. Patients don’t want to feel sold on any and every treatment out there, but if they feel that you are the expert in a specific treatment, and this is supported not only by your knowledge as a clinician, but also in the technology available in your office, they will be encouraged to choose you for this treatment.
- Brochures and pamphlets: Devote a significant portion of your overall marketing budget to creating and maintaining office-branded literature. Develop brochures for each major treatment or service you offer, going through general information about the treatment, relevant technology and how your office excels above the rest. Include your office name, logo, statement and contact information on each brochure. Personalized brochures relay a sense of expertise and sophistication to your patients and encourage them to follow through with a plan of action in your office.
- E-newsletters: Beyond office literature, it is important that you send out regular, informative and branded e-newsletters. Either monthly or quarterly, send a newsletter to your patients outlining new technology, promotional treatment plans, new staff and/or new expertise. Did you recently acquire a piece of technology that will greatly expand your treatment options? Did you hire a new team member who adds specific and impressive expertise? Highlight this information. Keep your patients informed and engaged. If they get the impression that your office is constantly growing, diversifying and moving forward in the field of medical aesthetics, they will want to choose your office. This will not only increase patient loyalty, but also will encourage current patients to try new options, leading to increased treatment appointments and increased profitability.
- Website: Just as your office serves as the physical representation of your brand, an organized, streamlined and informative website defines your brand online. Make sure your office information, logo and contact information are visible on each page. Keep fonts and styles simple and sophisticated. Clearly outline the treatment and service options you offer, making sure the site is optimized so it ranks on the first page of Google during web searches—and emphasize what makes your office stand out among the competitors. Provide enough information to portray your expertise in the field while encouraging new patients to contact you for additional information. This will lead to increased patient conversion and patient retention. Your website is your virtual brochure—it’s the first place patients look so when they get to your site, so keep them there. Your website should generate more than 100 leads per month. If it’s not, something is wrong.
Personalized Follow-up: Your front office staff should make a proactive, regular effort to follow up with patients. Particularly after introductory or consultation appointments, when new patients may have unanswered questions or concerns, it is critical that your staff remains in touch. Make it a policy to check in with every new patient one week after their first treatment appointment to verify that the treatment was successful and to gauge their satisfaction. It is key that you address any patient concerns as quickly as possible. You want every patient to feel important; this is what will make them return. It’s important to stay in touch with established patients as well—inform them of any new technology, treatment plans or promotions available to them, and encourage them to take action.
If you want to quickly increase the profitability of your office, focus on patient retention. It cost eight times more money to gain a new patient than it does to nurture the ones that you have.
Schedule a strategy call with me and take the first steps towards optimizing your business and improving patient retention today.
Terri Ross brings more than 20 years of sales and management experience to the field, having worked with leading-edge medical device companies such as Zeltiq, Medicis, EMD Serono, Merck Schering Plough and Indigo Medical, a surgical division of Johnson.
Ross’ vast knowledge and experience as a sales director managing upwards of $20M in revenue and successful teams has allowed her to become a renowned plastic surgery management consultant helping aesthetic practices thrive.
To optimize revenues and business performance, Ross’ practice management consulting services help physicians evaluate practice processes including, but not limited to, overall-operating efficiencies, staff skill assessment, customer service and operating efficiency strategies. The goal is to develop a comprehensive plan of action to improve productivity, quality, efficiency and return on investment.