Valuable tips to increase your optometry patient retention

Customer retention is serious business these days, especially in healthcare and optometry practices.

Just as with any customer-facing business, customer retention is just as important as, and maybe even more important than, patient acquisition.

Why is customer retention so important for eye care practices? For starters, customers you already have can represent a significant investment, and spending the time and money it takes to gain them only to lose them is just like throwing money away. On top of that, it is easier to sell to an existing customer than it is a new customer since they are already familiar with your product. Either way, you save money and conserve resources.

This blog looks at patient retention and includes valuable tips you can use to increase retention for your optometry practice.

What is patient retention?

Patient retention in the eye care field is just what it sounds like – you keep the patients you already have.

Patient retention in eye care is important since few patients will visit an eye care practice just once. While they may come to see you to handle a specific eye problem, most people need eye care on a regular basis just like they need their teeth cleaned every year. They need eye checkups, vision tests, new glasses, and updated glass and contact lens prescriptions.

Patient retention can be measured – usually, it is the percentage of your total patients who return to visit you multiple times.

Why is patient retention important?

The benefits of patient retention are fairly easy to understand: Having patients come back to you is cheaper than going out and winning new patients. You can develop a rapport with these patients, serve their eye care needs over time, and gain the benefits of a happy, satisfied customer, which can translate into positive word-of-mouth referrals and positive reviews left on places like social media sites.

Further, patients who stick with you for the long run are likely to spend more. Loyal patients already have a relationship with your practice and trust you more than someone they have never dealt with before. That trust means that the patient is more likely to say “yes” to recommended care and will more carefully consider your evaluations and treatment plan. Increased trust can make patients more open to suggestions to purchase products and services, don this helps boost your sales volume – and do so almost for nothing.

Additionally, having a higher percentage of repeat customers makes it easier to forecast your income. When you have a long history with patients, you can more accurately predict what services they will pay for, what products they will buy, and what volumes they will buy in. Contrast this with new patients, who have no track record of spending at your practice and may only come once then never come again.

What are some tips for improving your eye care patient retention?

Patient retention boils down to a few key factors: You need to provide a superior eye care service, a good value, and leave the patient feeling happy and satisfied.

Here are some tips for improving your eye care patient retention:

1. Offer superior service

Offering superior service to your eye care patients may seem like an easy thing to do but it can be surprisingly tricky in the medical field, especially when a patient visit can be a dynamic process involving not just the care they receive but also the experience of making an appointment, arriving at your clinic, waiting for their appointment, being seen, and then getting a solution to their eye care problem.

2. Focus on the details

The auto repair industry years ago figured out how focusing on the details of the customer visit can vastly improve customer satisfaction. When you take your vehicle in to be serviced, largely gone now are the days of waiting in a grimy chair surrounded by oily parts, wondering exactly what was done to your vehicle, and never receiving updates or following through on what was going on. Instead, customers at auto repair or servicing stations now often wait in clean, sleek waiting rooms with great coffee and small snacks to nibble on, have free wi-fi to use while they are in the waiting room, get text updates not the progress of their auto repair, and even receive digital pictures of the work that was completed on their vehicle.

Your eye care practice can do much the same by creating a visually appealing and calm waiting room, keeping patients apprised of their care instead of waiting alone in a waiting room, receiving detailed explanations of the care they are receiving, and getting thoughtful follow up messages after the care is performed that lets them know their eye care provider truly cares about them.

3. Billing plays a huge role in patient satisfaction

Patients hate nothing more than being on the receiving end of billing errors, unclear bills, or mystery bills. Health care providers who do things right have clear, concise bills that show clearly what amount is due, why it is due, when it is due, what the charge is for, and where they payment can be made to. On top of all of that, the bill must be correct – there is no surer way to losing patients than by sending bills that are riddled with errors.

4. Get the right tools and technology on your side

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many things like billing accuracy and superior service can be accomplished with tools like optometry electronic medical record software. An EMR system and the right optometry software can simplify the appointment schedule process, streamline the delivery of care, and reduce or even eliminate those billing errors that your customers hate so much. Optometry practice management software can operate as the backbone of your eye care clinic, organizing your team’s admin tasks, streamlining appointment bookings, simplifying the invoice creation and billing process, and clearly and accurately managing patient medical records.

Questions about increasing your eye care patient retention? Contact the pros at Eye Care Leaders, who have years of experience in patient retention and EMR tools that can help your practice offer superior care.

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