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Healthcare marketing strategyHealth plans4 min read Is marketing doing enough to influence patient retention?

Patient retention is emerging as a top priority for healthcare marketers in 2021

September 15, 2021The Coffey Team

With COVID-19 being the defining event of 2020, healthcare organizations are left trying to predict a future that still seems uncertain. What will the “new normal” look like? Will consumers expect more than smaller healthcare organizations can deliver? Will loyal healthcare consumers return, or have they sought out services elsewhere?

According to NRC Health’s 2021 Healthcare Consumer Trends Report, 45% of consumers have already changed their healthcare brand preference and 62% expect that their brand preferences will change once the pandemic has ended.

To retain patients, health systems must address patient experience. A recent study by Accenture indicates that 64% of patients are likely—or highly likely—to switch to a new health system if their expectations are not met regarding sanitation and safety protocols, access to up-to-date information, and the availability of virtual care options.

Marketing for retention

While marketing teams have often focused heavily on attaining new healthcare consumers, they have the ability to highly influence patient retention as well. Here are five strategies to reconnect with current patients, along with some quick statistics:

  1. Provide an extraordinary patient experience. More than ever before, consumers expect an exceptional patient experience. A good patient experience requires engaging patients not just during care delivery, but on a continual basis throughout the entire continuum. Elevate online user experience by ensuring that your website is patient-focused and provides convenience tools, such as online appointment scheduling and registration, text reminders, and telehealth visits. Review call center scripting, and make sure the caller experience is personalized and aligns with your brand. And manage your online reputation by responding to all reviews to show healthcare consumers that you are engaged and value their opinion. Relevant statistics:
    • 94% of healthcare patients use online reviews to evaluate providers. (Source: Software Advice)
    • 84% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. (Source: )
    • More than 50% of patients from all age groups through 54 years old preferred digital tools over the phone for appointment reminders and post-care communications. (DocASAP)
  1. Adopt a robust digital marketing strategy. Most healthcare journeys begin online. Focus marketing efforts on ranking in search results and on social platforms to reach new prospects. Existing patients will remember you because of your digital Using a robust marketing strategy to build patient loyalty results in credibility and returning patients. Relevant statistics:
    • 5% of all Google searches are health-related. (Source: Google)
    • Search drives 3x more visitors to hospital sites compared to non-search. (Source: Google)
    • Patients who booked healthcare appointments ran 3x more searches than those who did not. (Source: Google)
  2. Use multichannel Multichannel marketing uses a variety of direct and indirect channels — such as websites, emails, SEO, social media, blogs, mobile marketing and more — to communicate with patients. It gives your consumers a choice about when and how they want to interact with you.Understanding each channel's strengths and weaknesses will help you connect with all of your patients and build strong relationships with them.
    • Customer retention rates are 90% higher for multichannel marketing vs. single channel marketing. (Omnisend, 2020)
    • 90% of customers expect consistent interactions across channels. (SDL)
  1. Continually communicate and educate. Education helps patients make informed decisions and participate in their own care. Savvy patients are proactive about their health, so educate and inform them on topics relevant to your organization by starting a blog. This is a great way to keep patients engaged and highlight your authority on the issues they care about. Create content that will improve your consumers' health and empower them to take action. Ensuring that your content is well-structured and easily found contributes to a positive user experience.
    • Less than 25% of patients report that they comprehend the instructions given to them at discharge. (CipherHealth)
    • 66% have looked online for information about a specific disease or medical problem, and 55% have looked online for information about a certain medical treatment or procedure. (TrialFacts)
    • 60% of privately insured health plan members say they were not contacted by their health plan with guidance or information related to COVID-19. (JD Power)
    • In 2020, about 70 million blog posts were published in WordPress each month, and 77%of internet users read blogs. (New York Times)
  2. Meet consumers where they are. Online marketing attracts patients to you. But with publications, such as magazines and newsletters, you reach your healthcare consumer directly. A publication provides an opportunity to find new or potential healthcare consumers and enables you to increase customer retention through ongoing engagement. Publish quality content that's relevant and valuable to your patients not only to educate them, but also to establish your organization as a reliable source of information.
    • More than 60% of print magazine readers spend at least 30 minutes reading each issue. (Statista)
    • 73% of adults prefer print on paper for reading. (MPA)
    • 94% of people under 25 read magazines. (MPA)

Count on Coffey

The Coffey team has experts who know how to reach and engage healthcare consumers. We specialize in publications, websites and content development and can help you create a multichannel strategy to retain patients and achieve conversions. Contact us to schedule a meeting to discuss your unique needs.