A 5% increase in customer retention can increase company revenue by 25%-50%.

Why? Because retained customers are happy customers. They are the loyal ones who appreciate the value of your staff and service. They are the ones who refer us to their family, co-workers and friends. Ultimately, they are the ones who spend more, more often and drive higher life-time value.

But when time is limited, resources are scarce and operating costs are high – often I have seen patient retention strategy fall low on the priority list. We forget that failing to prioritize patient retention is like using your bath tub without the putting the plug in. Sure, you can keep the tap on, but your tub will never be full unless you find the plug and stop the drain.

I want to talk about my experience and success with patient retention in this multi-part blog post. Let’s get started!.

First the basics. Every successful clinic needs a solid IT backbone. A simplified EMR module, an intelligent scheduling tool, robust billing module are must haves. A critical criterion for success is integration between these modules. Implementing an integrated business suite from a trusted IT partner like Cezta would ensure that all you do not have to work about IT backbone. This one factor multiplies you chance at success.

Second, practicing physical therapy requires continues learning, applying the learning to practice and the discipline to consistently do that. Your business needs to constantly evolve and adapt new techniques and therapies to provide your patients with the best care possible. This also means constant training for your staff. Automating trainings through a training module is a best practice.

Third, on top of your expertise, equally important is the efficient operations. Running your physical therapy clinic, hiring staff and paying the bills, requires unique skills. It takes business and marketing knowledge to operate an efficient clinic. Simply treating patients does not guarantee you will always have new patients coming through the door

Marketing can help getting the patients in the door of your physical therapy clinic. The next step is retaining those patients and getting additional new patients they refer to you. This is the importance of a patient retention program.

Fortunately, physical therapy patient retention methods are not difficult to learn or execute.

What is the value of physical therapy patient retention?

Acquiring new patients is expensive. Keeping existing ones isn’t.

In fact, a much-cited study by Harvard Business School found that it’s 5x — 25x more expensive to acquire a new customer in any business than it is to retain an existing one.

Returning customers = return on investment.

Let me explain further

Sure, attracting new patients to your physical therapy clinic should be at the top of your list for marketing efforts. After all, new patients represent new business and that means more revenue. When you started your physical therapy practice, you had to find a way to attract new patients, and you have probably continued using the same methods.

What about trying to retain those patients? You made the effort to bring them in in the first place, but are you doing all you can to get the most benefit out of them? If not, some of your marketing budget is being wasted.

Acquiring new patients is expensive. It costs more to attract new patients than it does to retain current patients. You have to spend time and money educating potential patients about what you do, the services you offer and how you are different from other physical therapy clinics. The up-front investment in time and money to establish a new patient can be significant.

Keeping existing ones is much more cost effective. Current patients already know who you are and what you do. They have already benefited from your services. Make the most out of their positive experience, and your current patient could become a long-time patient. They can also bring in other new patients through word of mouth or a referral program with less effort on your part. When consumers find something they like, they want to share it with others around them who may benefit. Whether your loyal patient is a rehabbing athlete or a Baby Boomer recovering from joint replacement surgery, they know other people in similar situations.

Maintaining Ideal customer base. Each of your current patients is part of a demographic that fits your ideal client base. Allowing your patients to act as brand ambassadors for your clinic cuts out the cost of identifying and reaching your target demographic.

Create a Fan Following. When you have a group of loyal customers, you have a strong fan base for your physical therapy clinic. Loyal customers like to interact with other patients via online reviews and other organic promotions. Approximately 27% of social media users post health-related status updates. Think of the possibilities if they were spreading the good news about your physical therapy clinic.

Leverage Social Media. Healthcare institutions regularly participate in social media, especially on Facebook. At least 26% of hospitals have a presence on social media, sharing information with patients, educating the public and extending their relationships with patients. Patients are adapting to interacting with their healthcare providers via the Internet.

Free of cost Marketing. Your regular patients gathering on social media also become a free vehicle for your marketing communications. When you let your fan base know about a new service you are offering, they spread the word for you. They are also more likely to try your new service themselves. Cezta Business Solutions has built-in live patient satisfaction surveys and feedback/review links that can be shared in social media platforms.

Retaining patients for your physical therapy clinic has several advantages over attracting new patients. We will discuss some ideas for physical therapy patient retention methods in next part of this blog.

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