The Deeper Value
From ESCO Business Solutions
Are your patients coming through your doors or going through your competitor’s doors?
by Mike Eckert Posted on February 3, 2020
Today’s hearing aid marketplace is rapidly changing. According to the Hearing Industries Association, we saw an increase in hearing aid units by 6.5% (of that the VA increased by 8.4% in units to 19.1% of the total hearing aids sold in 2019). According to the Hearing Review, Big box retailers such as Costco, are increasing their presence and are estimated to have a 14% market share. In addition, we have seen third party insurers aggressively marketing and expanding; which results in a reduction of reimbursement for the providers. Add to this the entrance of over the counter (OTC) products, ready to hit the marketplace with low-cost hearing aids. What should your practice do to protect your patient base? The answer is clear, a solid retention marketing plan.
I consult with practices across the country. A common question I ask practices, “Are your patients loyal to your practice?” I hear similar responses, the most common answer is almost always, “My patients love me, and they all come back to me”. The next question I ask, “How do you know?” This is followed by silence.
In my world what gets measured gets done. So how do you objectively measure patient loyalty?
First, you need a solid database of patients. In the hearing industry, there are multiple office management databases that are highly effective if used properly. The key is finding one system that fits your practice needs than actually using it as opposed to having an expensive calendar system. Having evaluated hundreds of offices' databases, we’ve found that 10-50% of the data is either missing or entered incorrectly. How do you fix this situation?
Step 1 Buy an industry specific database like sycle.net, Blueprint, CounselEar, or Tims. If you’re currently using one, have it evaluated for proper usage.
Step 2 Have the appropriate people learn how to use it properly and effectively. Make sure you have a backup as staff does turn over. If your current database is being underutilized or used incorrectly, put a corrective action in place to address the data gaps.
Step 3 Use it religiously making sure that all the fields are being entered into!
Next, your practice needs a solid retention marketing program that has multiple touchpoints. There are many ideas on how to keep in touch with patients – so they stay your patients and not your competitors. Here are a few to think about.
New patient onboarding: Your plan should start with new patient onboarding activities to make your patients feel special. Ideas include a personally written thank you card, welcome gift, plant/flower delivered to their home, a personal call from their provider and or a call from the front office staff.
Current patient touchpoints: Next you want to include ongoing activities to keep in front of your patients. A couple of simple ideas include annual checks, birthday cards, holiday cards, warranty expiration notices, newsletters, and patient appreciation events.
Re-engaged/Re-activated patients: Lastly, you should have a strategy to keep in touch with patients that need to be re-engaged or re-activated. These may include patients that were tested, had a hearing loss and choose not to move forward with hearing aids. The ideas in this category are similar to a current patient with annual checks, birthday cards or newsletters. You should also include some form of call to action to welcome them back to your office.
The average patient purchases new hearing aids every 5.4 years. It’s never too early to start having ongoing touchpoints with your patients. It would be impossible to incorporate every idea into your practice, but you need to start somewhere. First, it starts with having a solid database. Next, make a plan that compliments your practice. Track your results and make adjustments where needed.
If you’d like help evaluating your current database, your current retention marketing plan or help getting started please reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.