Out of all the strategies that clinics can build to grow their practise, word of mouth remains the most sustainable. No online review or rating can replace the sincerity of a personal, human recommendation. Advertising channels and marketing hacks evolve and change depending on popular trends – word of mouth referral remains eternal.
For many patients, Google and social media form the background of their research when it comes to looking for caregiver options. Word-of-mouth referrals are the deciding factor when it comes to patients discovering a clinic. To stay ahead of the curve in this competitive healthcare landscape, clinics should focus on how they can improve their word of mouth referrals among their patients.
So, how can a clinic get its patients talking? TABIIB lists 4 ideas that can help as a starting point:
1) Provide an exceptional patient experience
Patient experience refers to all those interactions that patients have with your clinic – from people to the process. This includes your online presence, your appointment scheduling software, the receptionist at the front desk, and the consulting doctor. For a positive patient experience, every interaction they have must be smooth and frictionless. In case there are any issues that are faced by the patient, there must be a system in place that resolves them immediately.
Issues in the billing process, reimbursement of insurance can also leave a negative impression. Discourteous behaviour of the front desk staff can also impact the clinic’s image.
Knowing this, it’s imperative that clinics invest in hospital management software that can help them ease the appointment booking process. Staff of the clinic must also be provided with adequate training to ensure that patients are not left dissatisfied with the service.
2) Ask for patient feedback
We’ve discussed why patient feedback is essential for a clinic to remain successful in this blog.
A point that bears repeating: a clinic can never truly know if it’s doing a good job if they don’t hear it from the patients themselves. By implementing a patient feedback system, clinics can engage with patients directly and manage their online reputation. If the patient experience was exceptional, clinics will be able to uncover why and replicate the same process for future customers.
Keeping in touch with patients regularly is important as well. This can be done through sending periodic reminders, updates, monthly newsletters, etc.
3) Offer incentives to patients
For some patients, a positive healthcare experience suffices to make a referral. Those are an exception. Many patients often need some incentive or a compelling enough reason to make a clinic’s name a recommendation to their family and friends.
While it’s unethical to offer financial rewards as an incentive, patient loyalty programs or discounts go a long way towards setting a clinic apart.
A clinic need not offer discounted rates for all services – a few select ones can do. Referral programs where patients can redeem a free service or consultation for every recommendation can boost engagement and attract new patients. Clinics also have the option of displaying their offers and discounts on medical platforms.
TABIIB Plus is a good example of this. Such loyalty programs benefit a clinic without compromising on patients’ trust.
4) Make the process of referral easy
A survey shows that people trust recommendations from their friends and family more than from strangers on the Internet. If a clinic acknowledges these referrals, there’s a high chance that their practise will grow.
As mentioned in the beginning of the blog, patients often go online to check out a clinic’s website and social media profiles. Clinics should focus on ensuring that they have a system in place where patients can easily check for referrals or redeem discounts from referrals.
Even something as simple as a Google form can help. Another way that works is after a new patient is onboarded, a clinic could ask how they found them.
If the patient mentions a referral, the clinic can send a thank-you note to the source. This cements the clinic’s presence in the mind of the patient and builds awareness.
These were just a few tips from a marketing point of view to help clinics on their growth strategy journey. You can always build an online presence by listing the clinic on TABIIB’s platform.