There was a time when the concept of patient loyalty in the healthcare industry wasn’t necessarily a big priority if at all.

Now, however, healthcare has taken on the requirements of any business, and one of those is a strong, loyal customer base, or in this case, patient base.

Historically, healthcare and its methods of delivery weren’t seen as consumer-oriented. Most patients utilized healthcare plans with low deductibles, and rather than relying on their own research, these patients relied mostly on referrals from primary care providers.

Now, however, there is more cost sharing on the part of patients, which is leading to an increased sense of competition throughout the industry.

So how can you build loyal patients and focus on retention in your practice or facility?

Improve Efficiency

Efficiency is paramount in a competition-driven model, and medical practices, hospitals, and other facilities need to make sure they’re doing everything they can to improve efficiency and reduce wait times.

After 30 minutes spent waiting, patients tend to become frustrated, and that’s not something that can happen in today’s model of the medical industry.

Customer Service Training

Along with regulatory and compliance training, employees in medical facilities also need to be trained in customer service best practices.

The opinion a patient forms about a medical practice or facility starts as soon as they call to make their first appointment, and medical organizations now have to be completely in the business of customer service as much as anything else.

Everyone in a medical organization should be trained in customer service, starting with the administrative team, all the way through care providers and billing specialists.

Marketing and Social Media

Many healthcare businesses have been slow to embrace the use of digital marketing and social media, but it’s an essential component of patient loyalty and retention.

Social media is one of the biggest drivers of the consumers’ experience and perception across industries, and it’s also increasingly where people go to find information and updates.

The benefits of utilizing social media in healthcare include the ability to shape and impact the discussion in your niche or for your practice, and it also gives you a direct, inexpensive way to stay in constant contact and communication with patients.

It can also be used as a valuable way to shape the idea that you’re an authority, which is important to people when they’re making health care decisions.

Empowering Patients

As a final note, if you want to build patient loyalty and retention, patients should feel like they’re an integral part of their healthcare and decision-making.

This means these facilities need to put their time into creating education and informational resources for patients.

And also ensure that key care providers are trained in how to effectively communicate with patients, as well as how to help them understand their decisions and guide their decision-making process in a way that’s going to leave patients feeling like they’re in the loop, rather than being a bystander in their own healthcare.