Dermatology Times - June 2011 - (Page 84)
practice management business consult
Elizabeth Woodcock is the principal of Woodcock & Associates and a speaker and writer specializing in practice management. Visit her Web site at www. elizabethwoodcock.com.
Not a cure
Electronic health records won’t resolve all denials
Keep ’em coming back
Building patient loyalty a sure way to promote practice success
s patients take on more financial responsibility for their healthcare, dermatologists are finding themselves in a challenging new role — being a commodity in a marketplace where patients shop for services. Success in this new environment requires your dermatology practice to retain its current patients, and attract new ones. To do that, you must shift your focus from just measuring patient satisfaction to seeking — and gaining — patient loyalty. A marketplace where consumers differentiate on price will be challenging to everyone in dermatology. Yet we all know that many people will pay more than the going rate for a commodity-based product if they perceive higher quality or an emotional connection (Starbucks latte, anyone?). While competitive prices may be part of your practice’s strategy, the key to attracting and retaining patients is value. The fundamentals of creating value, aside from your own skills, are the people who provide good service — that is, your staff. Try the following techniques to cultivate patient loyalty: Measure loyalty. Ask patients the question that gets to what the
researcher Fred Reichheld determined is the best way to measure satisfaction: “How likely is it that you would recommend Dermatology Associates to a friend or colleague (Reichheld, F. “The One Number You Need to Grow.” Harvard Business Review, December 2003)?” The author of this sentinel research recommends tracking results based on a 10-point scale (instead of a five-point scale); doing so will more clearly differentiate loyal patients from
in the medical field — will differentiate your practice from your competition. It also will delight your patients. If making phone calls after every patient visit is too much, at least target new patients for these calls. Dig into data. Query the database of your practice management system for patients who haven’t been seen in at least two years (or adjust the time frame based on the resources you can allocate to this project). Send a letter
Success in this new environment requires your dermatology practice to retain its current patients, and attract new ones. To do that, you must shift your focus from just measuring patient satisfaction to seeking — and gaining — patient loyalty.
those who are merely satisfied. Follow through. If growth is on your mind, there’s no better marketing tactic than to call patients two days after their visit. Inquire about their health and pointedly ask, “Was your experience with our practice positive, and what can we do to make it better?” Not only will you gather important intelligence about patient satisfaction, but this proactive call — now a rarity to these patients, encouraging them to seek dermatological care at your practice. Track the efficacy of your efforts by assigning a specific phone number or employee for them to call. At minimum, review your chart transfers to identify and call patients who moved their records to other dermatologists in the community. Although you may not get all of those patients
business consult see page 86
Inga Ellzey, M.P.A., R.H.I.A., C.D.C. Inga Ellzey Practice Group
On updating medical practice technology See story, page 88
Source: Elizabeth Woodcock, M.B.A., C.P.C., F.A.C.M.P.E.
Getty Images/PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections/PhotoAlto/ Frederic Cirou
“Failure to use the latest technology can cost the practice lost revenue.”
Hire a ‘customer servant’
Maintaining a culture of service excellence can’t happen without the right people. Hiring may be the most important aspect of your customer service initiative. For your next hire, don’t just focus on job skills and expertise — make sure you also evaluate the candidate’s service orientation. Although it’s not easy to train an employee to draw blood or register a patient in your billing system, educating staff about these tasks is a cinch in comparison to teaching someone to smile.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Dermatology Times - June 2011
Dermatology Times - June 2011
Dermatology Times - June 2011