Many clinics talk a lot about patient loyalty, engagement, and keeping the patient involved and activated even after their visit. Some invest a lot of time and effort in social media, customer portals, email communications, or other technologies that facilitate interactions with patients. But how do you measure how effective these activities really are?
Unfortunately, many fail to measure engagement, often because there are many other tasks competing for attention. Many primarily focus on patients and increased revenue, causing the investigation of patient engagement to easily fall through the cracks.
The fact is that measuring patient engagement is as important as measuring how many appointments are cancelled or how many patients return for follow-up visits. When patients are engaged, their lifetime value increases significantly, as engaged patients tend to come back regularly.
This means not only do we get repeat patients, but we also don’t need to spend as much time seeking out and marketing to those who are not already aware of us. Additionally, engaged patients often schedule preventive visits and are better at contacting the clinic in advance to cancel their appointments if, for example, they become ill before the visit. They are more inclined to listen to their practitioners and follow the recommendations given. They might even recommend other people to the clinic. All these activities benefit the clinic in both the short and long term.
Do you want to measure patient engagement but aren’t sure how to do it? The first step is to know what you should measure. Here are 5 suggestions for success factors that indicate how engaged patients are:
Cancellation frequency is a metric worth exploring in relation to other data. For example, has the cancellation frequency increased because there is a waiting time of several months to get an appointment at the clinic for both new and existing patients?
One possible explanation could be that patients cancel appointments to go to someone who can offer an appointment within a week instead. If that’s the case, the clinic might need to hire more practitioners or evaluate and streamline processes to create greater availability.
Unpaid bills are more about patients who have already visited the clinic. It’s important to establish a clear process for patients regarding what is expected of them. Be transparent about the prices for different types of treatments, when the patient needs to pay, and the terms and conditions that apply.
It’s easy to think that a really good experience is only related to the treatment itself, but if payment becomes problematic, it can significantly impact the overall impression of the visit and determine whether a patient books another appointment.
This is a factor that practitioners can benefit greatly from monitoring and responding to as quickly as possible. This also applies to “informal” complaints on social media or forums, for example. Many people think that social media is mostly about posting and reaching out to the audience, but it’s just as much about listening to what your patients and others are saying about your clinic.
One way to prevent complaints could be to ask the customer about their visit, either on-site or by sending out a survey after the visit, asking the patient to write about their experience. If there are recurring complaints, it might be a good idea to examine if there’s something in the process that can be improved.
Usage of Your Booking System
Clinics need to keep an eye on their digital storefront. Hopefully, especially after Covid-19, more people are comfortable booking their visits online using booking systems and paying online. If patients don’t feel comfortable booking appointments online or using your booking system, it might be a good idea to educate them and show them how to book appointments online. The time you spend educating them will pay off when they become more self-sufficient and can book appointments themselves.
Additionally, it’s excellent customer service, especially for older patients who might not be very experienced with being online in general.
Website Traffic and Engagement
Even online, you can measure how engaged your visitors are. You can see how long visitors stay on average, which page is the most popular, and where most visitors leave the website. With this information, you can determine if there’s a part of your website that needs to be redesigned or clarified.
Here are some tips along the way:
- Send a survey to your patients as soon as possible after their visit. If you wait for several days or weeks, it will be harder for the patient to remember, and you probably won’t get as good responses.
- Try different methods. There are several ways to send out surveys. You can ask the patient to fill out the survey immediately after the visit and hand it to you. However, the most convenient method is usually sending an automated SMS or email right after the visit.
- Suggestions for questions you can ask: How easy did you find it to book an appointment? How satisfied are you with your treatment? What can we do to make your experience even better next time? Is there anything else you want us to know?
- Ensure that practitioners ask patients about their experience right after the visit. Asking about the experience also builds engagement and shows patients that you care about them.
Clinics that invest time in analysing engagement and customer experience can build patient relationships that last for several years. It’s a very worthwhile investment that pays off in many ways.
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