Empower Your Practice

Journal for Practice Managers

How to Make a Patient Loyalty Program Work for Your Clinic

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How to Make a Patient Loyalty Program Work for Your Clinic
Regardless of the size or focus of your clinic, a loyalty program is a great way to stay competitive while investing in the long-term future of your business.

Loyalty programs are designed to encourage regular patients to stick with you and your brand. They are used specifically with patients who have visited your clinic at least once and are not suitable for new patient acquisition.

The Main Goals of a Loyalty Program:

  1. Patient retention
  2. Stimulating repeat visits
  3. Increasing your average revenue per appointment
  4. Widening your range of services available
  5. Raising brand awareness and loyalty
  6. Keeping in touch with patients

Let’s take a look at the kinds of loyalty program most suited for use in private healthcare.

Types of Programs Shown to Increase Patient Loyalty to Clinics

- Cumulative

This type might be a discount system based on the total amount a patient has paid for your services over time. For example, if a patient has paid £100, they could receive a 2% discount. Later on, the same patient might be able to avail themselves of an additional 1% discount for every £100 spent. Typically, such discounts have an upper limit of 10%. Another effective cumulative method is to offer every fifth procedure for free.

- Paid Membership

The patient pays an additional sum in exchange for certain privileges. For example, they might be given the right to always be seen by the same doctor or the option to phone that doctor directly at any time. Ultimately, the list of specific privileges depends on the services your clinic offers in the first place.

- Non-material

✔ Webinars and seminars where a clinic representative can address issues facing your patients, answering questions and offering solutions.

✔ Competitions. If children comprise a large proportion of your patients, you can run a competition whether it’s for the best drawing, plasticine model, or Mother’s Day card. Just remember, there shouldn’t be any losers so there ought to be a consolation prize for everyone who takes part. On a daily basis, you can use stickers, medals and the like for children who have attended their appointment and given their blood for lab analysis.

✔ Fun Days. Organise an open day and choose a conspicuous location that will grab the attention of the local authorities and the media. Both of these always welcome these kinds of initiatives on the part of clinics.

✔ Membership privileges can be awarded to particular patients if they have joined your VIP program or have attended your clinic a number of times. You should offer such patients extra discounts, special services and more.

✔ Co-branding. Get in touch with other organisations that might be interested in developing a co-branded discount scheme with you. For example, a paediatric clinic could approach nurseries and playgroups, swimming clubs, Scout/Guide groups, etc.

Offering such non-material rewards for patients’ loyalty is an excellent means of growing your patient list and ensuring that patients stick with both your doctors and your clinic as a whole.

- Partner

To improve continuity of care outside of your clinic. For example, when you need to refer a patient to hospital or another clinic.

- Discount

There is a huge range of discounts you could promote, such as:

✔ Family;

✔ Advance Payment. The actual discount would depend on the sum paid by the patient in advance. For example, they might receive 10% off for every £200 spent and 20% off if they have spent £500;

✔ Specific Dates – birthdays, disease awareness days;

✔ Service Discounts for employees of the NHS, armed forces, police, fire service, etc. (e.g. the Blue Light card scheme and similar);

✔ Insurance. Patients who have policies with specific insurance companies may receive a reduced price for the duration of a given policy.

✔ Loyalty. If, for example, a patient has already paid £1,000 over the period of a year and has been rewarded with a 10% discount, they are unlikely to stray far if they are happy with your services.

- Points

You can reward patients with points not just for the purchase of services but also for a range of actions online. In particular, points could be awarded for subscribing to your social media pages, writing a review, posting about your clinic and/or re-posting one of your posts. This concept of offering cryptocurrency works well throughout all kinds of industries and healthcare is no exception. Points are a powerful instrument with which you can increase loyalty, grow brand awareness and create a positive public image of your clinic. All of this leads to a boost in your patient flow.

- Cashback

The term “cashback” refers to a proportion of actual money that is returned to a patient’s account after they have purchased a service from your clinic. Whenever a clinic is thinking about implementing such a program, the same question arises every time: Should we return this amount as money that can be spent anywhere or ought we limit it to being usable only in our clinic? The answer is simple: if the patient could spend this returned money in another clinic or anywhere else, then your program is no loyalty program at all and cannot be expected to help you retain patients!

- Gamification

It has become incredibly popular for various services to use elements of games with the purpose of giving the user micro-rewards that encourage continued effort and thus progress. Weight loss clinics will find it effective to give discounts on their next appointment for all those patients who followed their diet properly. You could even make the discount correspond to the amount of weight lost over time. This is one of the most effective ways to boost patient retention and patients’ motivation in one fell swoop.

- Multi-level

This refers to the use of several programs at once. It is particularly useful when you want to offer multiple levels of privileges and need a specific program for each level. However, it can be rather complicated and thus inconvenient to evaluate the effectiveness of such an approach.

The Medesk platform gives you financial reports that help you take into account all of your loyalty programs, discounts and bonus schemes.

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How Do You Know Your Loyalty Program Is Working?

To evaluate the success of your loyalty program, you should measure retention rate (RR).

Retention rate is the ability of a clinic to preserve a long-term relationship with a patient. As such, a high retention rate means that patients are happy to return for repeat visits and are actively recommending your clinic to their friends and family. In addition, retention rate allows you to evaluate patient involvement in your loyalty programs.

RR = Bonuses used / Bonuses awarded

If your RR is lower than 20%, then your loyalty program is not working.

N.B. Every time you make a change to your loyalty program, you run the risk of losing patients. Make sure you consider all the potential risks before you do anything!

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