Don’t Take Your Patients’ Loyalty for Granted
In today’s highly competitive healthcare environment, patient loyalty is constantly strived for but often assumed or even taken for granted. It’s safe to say that every healthcare organization desires to foster patient loyalty and it’s safe to say every healthcare organization would love to nurture and grow patient loyalty.
Understanding patient loyalty is at the core of growing and sustaining a viable healthcare organization. Over the last couple of decades, here at MedicalGPS, we have seen the gathering of patient feedback evolve. Obtaining patient feedback has progressed from measuring the patient’s satisfaction to measuring the patient’s experience, and now, I submit to you, that measuring and increasing patient loyalty is the new benchmark.
If there is a missing component today, it’s understanding how to measure patient loyalty and then having the processes in place to intentionally foster continuous improvement in patient loyalty. The only way to know if improvements are being achieved, of course, is to establish an accurate baseline.
Different Degrees of Loyalty
Before a baseline can be established, we should better understand what patient “loyalty” really means. When we think about patient “loyalty” we often assume the term is synonymous with patient retention. While patient retention is a form of patient loyalty, retention-loyalty is what we refer to as the first degree of loyalty. There is indeed a higher degree of loyalty, which is advocacy-loyalty.
“[C]ustomer loyalty and advocacy are two distinct concepts, they do have a symbiotic relationship at most companies. Providing an exceptional buying and customer experience can simultaneously build both loyalty and advocacy. [T]here’s a type of customer even more desirable and profitable than a loyal customer: an advocate. These customers not only love your company, they are also willing to vocalize and share that passion with their peers. In other words, they’re advocating for your brand everywhere they go.” (1)
At MedicalGPS we understand what makes for a loyal patient. In fact, we clearly understand the difference between retention-loyalty and advocacy-loyalty and how to foster loyalty within an outpatient physician practice setting.
Success is Proof
MedicalGPS teamed up with a large healthcare system and studied the behavior of more than 16 thousand patients within the physician practice, out-patient setting. We learned that both retention-loyalty and advocacy-loyalty drive patient loyalty.
The chart below shows the key patient engagement touchpoints of the patient’s experience and ranks each touchpoint based on importance. The correlation between each engagement touchpoint and retention-loyalty and advocacy-loyalty is depicted.
Working with practice managers and other front-line leadership, MedicalGPS senior executives teach the skills and techniques necessary that allow MedicalGPS clients the opportunity to realize tangible, measurable results. Improvements in patient loyalty result in better patient outcomes and increased financial stability. (2)
Measuring and Increasing Patient Loyalty
Using MedicalGPS’ real-time patient feedback system, M3-Patient Experience®, feedback from every patient is analyzed. After every key touchpoint of every patient survey questionnaire is evaluated, patients are classified into three categories; 1) loyal patients, 2) satisfied patients, and 3) potentially dissatisfied patients.
Patients that are found to be advocate-loyal are invited to help promote the practice by leaving online Google reviews via MedicalGPS’ social media management platform, M3-Advocate®.
Feedback from patients that falls into the potentially dissatisfied category is immediately brought to the attention of the practice manager, allowing for service recovery the day after the patient’s visit, or as soon as possible. The importance of service recovery – I should say, timely service recovery – cannot be overstated.
“Healthcare organizations focused on building patient loyalty should consider the patient experience from the beginning to the end of the care journey.” (3)
- Convenient care options
- Good patient-provider communication
- Friendly staff members
- Patient-centered billing
- Price transparency
At MedicalGPS we understand the good intentions behind the desire to shorten survey questionnaires. That being said, we also know that very short questionnaires with only generalized questions provide little or no insights into the patient’s experience are of little use to decision-makers. A questionnaire of modest length will provide the information needed to make service improvement changes. MedicalGPS clients enjoy questionnaire completion rates close to 95%, without patients experiencing survey fatigue.
In a previous MedicalGPS blog post we review in detail the 10 Steps to Maximizing Patient Loyalty and Effecting Positive Change. Below are the 10 steps for your review.
- Enlist the support of participating physicians and other leadership
- Ask patients about their care experience using an internet-based method
- Gather and process patient feedback continuously
- ACT on patient feedback straightaway when appropriate
- Pass along patient compliments soon after the patient’s visit
- Coach & counsel staff (when needed) soon after the patient’s visit
- Provide physicians with practice-unique results and benchmark comparisons
- Analyze patient feedback to identify improvement opportunities
- Collaborate with key decision-makers — create viable action-plans
- Execute action plans – Measure, Monitor, and Modify as needed
If your organization would like to learn how to further foster patient loyalty, we’d love to share success stories from around the MedicalGPS family of clients with you. Contact us today!
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