7 Practice Habits that Will Stop the Patient Revolving Door

Over the years many practitioners have asked “Where is the best place to spend money to market my practice?”

What you are about to learn is simple, although it may seem counterintuitive, but it’s the easiest place to focus your marketing dollars and keep your practice growing.

One of the big mistakes most acupuncturists make is spending all their time, energy and financial resources on trying to generate new patients to replace the ones who fall out of care.

The new patient revolving door is inevitable…

Prospects come to your clinic. You convert them to new patients. You treat them 3-4 times before they fall out of care, and you’re back in the new patient revolving door cycle again. Prospects come to your clinic. You convert them to new patients … and the cycle continues.

To stop this new patient revolving door cycle, introduce front-of-mind awareness systems and patient education to your practice.  Reduce the amount of time you dedicate attracting new patients to your practice and focus your efforts on the patients that already know, trust and like you.

Here is a little known fact about marketing.

“It takes eight times more energy to gain a new client than it does to keep a current one.”

Accept the fact that you will never be able to stop patients from falling out of care, but you can reduce the frequency.

Here are 7 proven practice habits that help reduce patient inactivation:

1. Evaluate your current patient retention system
Patients come to you with a specific health issue, for example back pain. What steps do you take to ensure your patients do not forget about you after you’ve relieved their pain?  They soon fall out-of-care and over time their pain returns. Only then do they remember to call you to schedule an appointment for further treatment.

Your job is to relieve the patient of back pain. It is also your job to educate your patients.  The pain relief you offer through acupuncture is only part of the treatment. To enjoy a pain-free life, patients need to be educated about what acupuncture is, how you will treat them as a patient and for how long. Most importantly you lay the groundwork for what they can expect during treatment.

The Report of Findings – The cornerstone of every successful practice is the “Report of Findings”.  The Report of Findings enables your patients to  schedule appointments months in advance.

If you are not giving an initial Report of Findings to every new patient, then you are leaving your revolving door wide open. Patients have questions, even if they don’t ask them. The Report of Findings answers those questions in a way that informs, inspires and properly educates patients.

Watch this quick 3 minute video – “5 Questions You Should Answer with Every New Patient”

2. Offer extra value
Teaching mini classes about nutrition, exercise and Chinese herbs etc. are great ways to bring extra value to your patients at little or no cost to them. Educate your patients. Provide them with information about how they can take better care of their health. Teach patients how to decrease their risk of illness and increase their enjoyment of life through healthy living.

To add further value, provide patients with informational brochures, education cards and other take-aways specific to your patient’s care when they attend your mini classes. Not only will you be educating your patients about important ways to stay healthy, but you’ll be positioning yourself as the go-to expert in your community.

Always assume your patients will show a friend or family member the information you gave them. They may just refer a new patient to you.

3. Employ different ways to announce your classes and events
There are various ways to announce to your patients the classes and events you host. Take the opportunity at the end of treatment to invite a patient to one of your classes and events.  Patients are more receptive to the benefit of continuing their involvement with you and will likely accept your invitation when they are relaxed and calm after treatment.

Make sure to explain the benefits of joining one of your classes or events. A good way to do this is to give a colorful flyer showcasing the event’s details. Consider setting up a bulletin board in your office. The best places are near the entrance door and your front desk.  Patients will explore the classes and events you offer while they wait for you to check them out or collect their payment.

People absorb information in different ways, be sure to employ a variety of methods to announce your classes and events and you will notice a positive change in your practice.

4. Teach while you treat
To sustain your practice and develop lifetime patients, you must educate your patients about  how acupuncture works.  Use a language your patients will understand; explain how acupuncture will help them and the long term benefits they will experience.  Educate patients about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle in their everyday life. Teach while you treat.

By example, when checking their pulses you could say:

“I’m going to feel the quality of all 12 of your pulses.”

Most patients are surprised they have 12 pulses, this is a good opportunity to educate them.

When you look at their tongue you could say:

“Let me see how your internal barometer is working today.”

Educate your patients about why you’re interested in looking at their tongue.

Or simply ask your patients this, it could lead to some interesting surprises:

“Hi [patient name], when you’re out in the world, if someone asks you why you come to me for acupuncture or ask you about what we do in here in my clinic, what do you tell them?”

Your patients are your acupuncture ambassadors. They will speak for you, they will talk about you and they will refer new patients to you. Teach patients what to say by educating them about what you are doing to help them during treatment.  An educated patient is more likely to refer new patients to you.

Proper patient education is key to growing your practice.

5. Gratitude goes a long way
A personal “thank you” goes a long way. Send patients a card thanking them. Tell them you are excited to have them as a patient and contribute to their well-being. Continue your expression of gratitude whether they are new patients or existing patients. Hold events periodically, “Patient Appreciation Days” are a way to show your appreciation for their continued presence.

Make sure you stay in front-of-mind awareness with patients. Implement the following:

  • Send birthday postcards
  • Send holiday greetings
  • Email monthly newsletters
  • Clinic birthday cards (celebrate the day you opened your clinic)
  • Periodic inspirational cards

6. Do not neglect addressing missed appointments
Missed appointments are inevitable. Don’t neglect missed appointments.  Be sure to call patients who miss their appointment.   If you noticed their absence they will feel important and know that you care about their well-being even when they are away from your clinic.

There is a balance here. Be sure to contact patients with a warm demeanor; do not make them feel poorly for missing their appointment.  Display genuine concern and ask why they missed their appointment and offer your help.

If your patient mentions they missed their appointment due to a negative experience at your clinic, offer to fix it. A negative experience could be anything from difficulty parking or an interaction with a staff member.

Regardless of the reason, patients who miss appointments should be sent a postcard or a brochure with tips to stay healthy. Continue raising patient awareness and educate them about  how they can take responsibility for their health.

7. Send patients monthly newsletters
Every month send your patients a free newsletter filled with useful information and health tips. Newsletters create front-of-mind awareness for active patients and provide a gentle reminder to inactive patients to come back to see you. Newsletters are a great way to offer extra value to your patients for the service you provide.

If you don’t have time to design your own  professional newsletter every month, you can learn more about our personalizable professional newsletters

Be sure to include a call-to-action that motivates inactive patients, and/or their friends to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment with you.

Take Action

Start adding these good habits to your acupuncture clinic and stop the patient revolving door. You will see your practice grow.

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