5 marketing automation strategies to improve patient retention

5 marketing automation strategies to improve patient retention

As we look to 2024, investing in patient retention should be very top of the list for healthcare providers. Considering it costs five times more to bring on a new patient than retain one, patient retention is the perfect place to focus marketing efforts in the coming year if you aren’t already. Since we know most healthcare organizations focus on patient acquisition as their top marketing and business goals, we’ve highlighted five marketing automation strategies to improve patient retention quickly and efficiently. Let’s face it, a little can go a long way with patient retention when combined with marketing automation initiatives. 

Build a consistent schedule of communication

Are you staring at a list of patients in your CRM that haven’t been contacted since their missed appointment? Are you only sending out communications about appointments? Consistent communication is the backbone of patient retention. Regular, relevant, and personalized communication makes patients feel valued and heard, which is a rare thing in this day and age of content overload. Marketing automation can help to streamline and ensure consistent communication in several ways: 

  • Automated emails: Regularly scheduled emails keep patients engaged and informed about your services. With the proper tool, you can segment your audience and hone in on what they need most, making it personalized and relevant to their care. 
    • Include booking links in communications
    • Send out birthday notes and holiday messages to build a deeper connection with your patients. 
  • Automated appointment reminders: Automated reminders help reduce no-shows and maintain a steady patient flow.
  • Follow-up Vvsits or calls: Automated scheduling of follow-ups adds a personal touch and shows patients that their well-being is a priority. A call reminder can also be set up in a CRM to notify front office staff to follow up with certain patients, especially if it was a difficult appointment or they are looking at a series of appointments. 

Amp up your online presence

Patients have unlimited choices for healthcare providers these days, making a strong online  presence vital to patient retention. If your current patients go looking for what they think might be a better option, make sure your organization shows up at the top of their search. SEO and SEM can improve search visibility. Make sure each location is optimized at the local level to make it easy for patients to find them. Encourage patients to leave reviews through follow-up emails, and respond to reviews, both good and bad. This shows that you take reviews seriously, and that you have an active online presence. Finally, consider implementing a robust organic content creation schedule, whether it be a blog, podcast, social media, vlog, or other medium. Helpful content that addresses patient concerns and interests builds trust and confidence in the services and providers at your organization. 

Patient feedback: the ultimate barometer

Listening to your patients is key! Regularly solicit patient feedback to understand their needs, concerns, and expectations. You can incorporate the ask into automated emails, train front desk staff, or have providers ask at the end of the patient interaction. Always give the option for anonymous feedback as well. Another way to reengage patients might be to send them an automated feedback survey geared towards understanding why they missed an appointment or have not returned to the office. 

If you’re listening to patient feedback and applying the changes suggested, tell your patients! It’s always nice to hear, ‘You asked, we listened,’ especially in the context of health. This helps to create a sense of community and care, and most of this should be part of an automated feedback process. If you don’t have an automated process already in place to solicit, act on, and communicate about patient feedback, ask your marketing partner to help you. 

Update your tech and use it

Technology provides a great opportunity to automate and streamline processes. Everything from patient portals and CRMs to online booking systems remove friction for patients. Technology can enhance the patient experience and make them more likely to engage if they know they can find their lab results and appointment notes online versus having to wait two weeks for a phone call. If you aren’t already, start leveraging technology to make patient retention that much easier. Consider the benefits an online booking portal provides right away; front desk staff can focus on helping patients in office, providers have more control over their schedule, and patients only need five minutes to schedule an appointment. 

We’ve also seen great success with marketing automations in patient portals and chatbots to reengage patients. Chatbots can help with basic inquiries and patient portals provide streamlined communication and information sharing. Most importantly, none of these strategies have to be implemented alone, rather, it’s wise to collaborate with tech or marketing partners to leverage their expertise!

Choose the right tools

This goes along with the above point about technology, but choosing the right tools is also a big consideration and should align with the larger business goals. Tools should be used across teams and provide the right amount of customization for your organization. 

  • Patient portals: Ensure easy access to health records, appointment scheduling, and communication.
  • CRMs: Customer Relationship Management systems can track patient interactions and preferences. They can also be connected to marketing tools to automate reminders, communications, and more.
  • Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems: In some cases, EHRs can provide valuable data for other marketing systems to support patient retention. 
  • Outreach tools: Provide for effective and personalized patient outreach with emails, social media, content, and more.

Bonus: update your website experience

Revamping your website can significantly enhance patient interaction and satisfaction. A user-friendly, informative, and visually appealing website encourages patient engagement and reflects the quality of your care.

Marketing automation can support numerous strategies for improving patient retention, and, after the initial investment to set up systems, automation takes care of the hard part. Above all, the key to successful patient retention lies in personalization, responsiveness, and the effective use of technology. If you need assistance figuring out how to reengage patients or want guidance as you set up marketing automation processes, give us a call!