Business Hours: Monday-Friday 9AM-6PM EST

Featured Image

How to Increase Patient Retention: 8 Effective Ideas

David Fuller

Last Updated On: May 9, 2024

Patient retention refers to the ability of a practice to maintain a consistent flow of patients returning for care. It is a necessity for healthcare clinics striving to sustainably grow their practices and maintain profitability

The loss of a patient to a competing provider can result in a potential financial loss of up to $200,000 throughout the lifespan of your business. This article explains how to increase patient retention via data-driven, patient-centric strategies to prevent this.

Key Takeaways  

  • Around 80% of people prefer physicians who offer online scheduling, with 38% considering it the most important factor in selecting healthcare providers
  • Patient concerns regarding the billing process include high expenses, complexity, and limited payment options. Approximately 63% of patients would switch providers due to payment friction and associated service costs
  • An active online presence is crucial for patient retention, with 70% to 82% of individuals seeking medical information online. Regularly updated websites and engaging social media profiles enhance patient education and engagement
  • Tailoring patient education content to individual preferences increases motivation, improves retention rates, and positions your practice as a trusted source of medical information
  • Effective communication positively influences patient satisfaction. Offering various communication channels and proactive post-discharge follow-up enhances patient experience
  • Lengthy wait times negatively impact patient satisfaction. Analyze patient visit durations, use scheduling software, and recruit additional staff to mitigate this issue
  • Use the law of reciprocity through value-added services and loyalty programs to foster patient loyalty

8 Ways to Keep Patients Coming Back

Here are eight practical patient retention strategies that help you deliver an exceptional patient experience and keep them coming back. 

1. Ensure Your Appointment Scheduling and Billing Processes Are Easy

People need quick, convenient, and flexible access to services, and healthcare is no exception. 

According to a Stax Inc. study commissioned by Healthgrades, approximately 80% of the surveyed people said they go to physicians who provide online scheduling options. For 38% of the participants, it was the most important deciding factor in the selection of healthcare providers. 

Similarly, PYMNTS surveyed 3,546 U.S. adults who received healthcare services in 2020. The survey found that 63% of the participants would willingly change healthcare providers because of payment friction and associated service costs despite satisfactory patient care. The top three concerns of patients related to the billing process were: 

  • A high total expense 
  • A complex billing process 
  • Lack of multiple payment options or third-party financing 

Here are six ways to streamline your appointment and billing process that help with retaining patients: 

  • Replace traditional phone-based scheduling with a user-friendly online portal where patients can schedule appointments at their convenience
  • Integrate the scheduling portal with Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems to allow for real-time appointment availability checks
  • Offer patients the flexibility to schedule appointments and receive confirmations via their preferred channels, such as secure patient portals, text messages, or emails
  • Implement automated appointment reminders
  • Use electronic eligibility verification tools to confirm insurance coverage and patient responsibility upfront
  • Provide patients with a variety of payment options, including credit card processing and integration with mobile wallets
doctor and patient consultation

2. Invest in Your Website and Social Media

70% to 82% of individuals seek medical information online, according to a 2020 study. This means a regularly updated online presence, which includes your website and social media, is a critical touchpoint for patient education and engagement beyond the physical clinic. 

You want to set up a website that serves as a comprehensive resource hub for your patients. It should provide value-packed health information, preventive care recommendations, and self-management resources to patients between clinic visits. 

It’s also a good idea to establish active profiles on popular social media networks such as Facebook, X, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Share relevant medical news, health updates, and practice announcements to develop a meaningful connection with your audience. Use interactive features such as polls, quizzes, and live question-and-answer sessions to solicit patient feedback, address common concerns, and improve community engagement

In addition, an Indiana cross-sectional survey found that 47% of participants wanted to use technology for communication with their physicians. Ensure that your practice is prepared to retain such patients via patient portal functionalities, secure messaging alternatives, and video conferencing technology.

3. Educate Your Patients

Chase, T’s review shows that evaluating patients’ learning preferences and tailoring patient education approaches accordingly increases motivation, improves retention rates, and optimizes the effectiveness of the teaching-learning encounter. 

Consider regularly updating your website with informative blog posts, articles, and videos covering a spectrum of healthcare topics relevant to your patient demographic to educate them.

You can also segment your patient database based on demographics, medical conditions, or health goals, and tailor educational content accordingly. 

For example, create specialized resources or playlists for patients managing chronic conditions, undergoing specific treatments, or transitioning through different life stages. You may also want to look into segmented email campaigns delivering educational content to your patients’ inboxes.

This way, you’ll position yourself as a trusted source of the latest medical information, and patients will keep returning to you due to your authority in the industry. 

On a similar note, consider organizing seminars, workshops, or online courses on topics of interest or emerging trends in healthcare and encourage your patients to attend these educational sessions. 

smiling female doctor talking to a patient

4. Provide Good Communication and Customer Service

Good communication has a positive and strong influence on patient satisfaction. On the flip side, poor customer service causes over 61% of customers to switch brands (and healthcare is no different). 

Make sure you let your patients feel you’re actively listening to them during conversations. Use non-verbal cues like maintaining eye contact and open body language, alongside verbal techniques like open-ended questioning and summarizing patient concerns. 

Besides, improve patient experience by offering a range of communication channels such as messaging platforms, telemedicine consultations, and virtual visits to accommodate patient preferences and accessibility needs. 

Finally, implement a system for proactive post-discharge follow-up via telehealth consultations.

5. Fix Long Wait Times 

Lengthy wait times are a significant deterrent to patient satisfaction and retention. An MIT study found that people who experience prolonged wait periods are likely to express reduced satisfaction, irrespective of the service quality they receive.

Identify the trends in patient visit durations through electronic health records (EHR) data analysis and look for areas of improvement. If the patient load in your clinic is too high, consider recruiting physician extenders like mid-level practitioners or nurses to manage non-critical consultation.

In addition, use scheduling software to automate the scheduling process and minimize appointment backlogs. A scheduling tool with predictive analytics can also help you forecast patient demand, allocate resources efficiently, and optimize appointment durations based on patient needs.

6. Use the Law of Reciprocity

The law of reciprocity of social influence, a well-documented psychological phenomenon, is a powerful way of earning patient loyalty. The principle says that individuals feel compelled to reciprocate when they perceive they have received a gift, favor, or concession. 

This means when patients perceive they’re receiving complimentary benefits, they’re inclined to maintain loyalty to your practice. 

A few ideas to use reciprocity as a healthcare provider include: 

  • Beyond core clinical services, offer value-added services such as educational workshops on chronic disease management, complimentary nutritional consultations, or access to online fitness programs
  • Develop a tiered loyalty program that rewards patients for consistent appointment adherence, medication refills, or preventive care visits
  • Encourage patient referrals by offering incentives like appointment discounts or complementary health screenings

7. Address Negative Reviews Promptly and Professionally

Negative reviews are more impactful than positive ones. In the 2021 PowerReviews survey, 96% of the participants said they actively seek out negative reviews to identify a company’s weaknesses. If the reviews were about minor flaws and the brand had reacted promptly, customers were often satisfied.

Instead of ignoring negative reviews, respond to them within 24 to 48 hours. Acknowledge the patient’s frustration and express empathy for their negative experience. While avoiding direct admission of fault, acknowledge the inconvenience caused and show a desire to rectify the situation. Publicly invite the patient to a discussion about their concerns in detail.

Negative reviews are also an ideal opportunity to reflect on what went wrong on your part. For instance, a cluster of reviews mentioning long wait times means you need to re-evaluate your appointment scheduling protocols.

end of a successful patient consultation

8. Make Personalized Interactions 

According to Segment’s State of Personalization Report 2023, 56% of customers return to businesses where they’ve had a positive personalized experience. You need a strategy for personalized outreach beyond the clinic walls for patient retention in healthcare. 

One way to do this is to train your staff to actively listen and document personal details shared by patients during consultations. Using the information you gather, send personalized birthday cards, holiday greetings, or wellness reminders based on individual preferences. 

You also want to identify touch points throughout the patient journey where personalized patient interactions can be integrated. For example, you might want to conduct follow-up calls after appointments to address any lingering concerns or send congratulatory notes for milestones like treatment completion. 


It costs significantly less to retain a patient than to acquire a new one. Research from Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company, which is known for developing the Net Promoter Score, indicates that increasing customer retention rates by 5% can yield profit increases ranging from 25% to 95%.

A well-rounded patient retention protocol will help you generate a stable revenue stream for your practice and a network of satisfied patients who will readily recommend your services to their peers. 

Remember, loyal patients are the foundation of a thriving healthcare practice. By investing in their satisfaction, you invest in the future of your clinic.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How Do You Attract New Patients?

Using the internet is the easiest way to attract new patients today. Invest in search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure your practice appears in local searches for relevant queries. Also, develop a user-friendly website with clear information about your services. You can also use social media platforms for targeted pay-per-click advertising campaigns using demographics and healthcare-related keywords.

How Do You Make a Patient Happy?

A happy patient interaction requires personalized care, efficient communication, and empathy. Actively listen to your patients to build rapport and ensure they feel heard and understood. Involve them in treatment planning and resolve any concerns they may have. Also maintain clear and transparent communication with patients regarding test results, treatment plans, and follow-up procedures. 




Log In


Subscribe for exclusive offers and updates on new arrivals




Share feedback at:

[email protected]

Working Hours

Monday to Friday: 9 AM to 6 PM (EST)

The Most Popular Brands

Copyright 2024. Med Supply Solutions