Talking about inactive patients always feels a little dark. So much so, many practices turn a blind eye thinking that a good percentage rate, often examined through retention rates provides the justification to turn that blind eye. I think that's a mistake.
We often hear that losing a patient is the most expensive patient to lose and I would agree with that for two reasons. The first is reputation and the second is not adjusting your marketing strategy between inactive and active patients.
When did you last take a deep look at your inactive patients?
There is a lot your inactive patients can tell you and even if your stats are good, you should still want to know what they have to say and you should still be tracking that statistic for early warning signs.
You should also be marketing to them differently because what they have to say is invaluable to knowing how to improve your statistics and protect your reputation. It's this last point that ties the importance of this issue into medical referral marketing.
Your reputation is everything when it comes to medical outreach and patients who don't return for care have a lot to say about that reputation, even if they are a small fraction of your practice. Examining your patient reviews on social media and on review sites like Yelp won't necessarily raise a red flag, only a small percentage of your inactive patients will take the time to post a negative review - the others do it by word of mouth and sometimes their audience is their MD, maybe even the MD that referred them to you in the first place. A correlation you may see when an MD stops or slows down what was a good referral relationship.
Most practices try to reactivate or market to their inactive patient base in the same manner as they do their active patient base. For example, many offices simply keep them on the newsletter list, the birthday card list and assume social media posts will keep them engaged but it fails to address the reason they left. The needs from a marketing perspective are different than the needs of your active patient base and this should be factored into your marketing strategy.
Think about this way - you have 1,000 patients and 30% have not been to your practice in over a year for a variety of reasons. Maybe they feel fine, maybe they don't have any pain, maybe they had a bad front desk experience or find your office hours or billing procedures inconvenient. Maybe they didn't think your care or the experience in your office was exceptional. What are these 300 patients saying about your practice?
Take the time to find out and change how you're marketing to this practice demographic.
I'm not one to pose a problem without offering a solution. If you think you this situation applies to your practice, consider joining our membership blog for only $4.95/mo, for solutions and additional insight. Your reputation is everything when it comes to building medical referrals and a successful practice.