The Importance of “The Follow-Up” In Medical Practice Marketing

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

man holding a breifcase taking a leapA few years ago, my dentist retired and I scheduled my first visit with a dentist who had become a client. After my first appointment, he personally made a follow-up phone call to see if everything met my expectations in the first visit. (It was a step in his new medical practice marketing plan.)

Though the call only lasted about a minute, I was so surprised that he took the time to follow-up that I must have told five people about it—with a glowing testimonial in each retelling. As a reflection of the “patient experience,” it was a gold star move.

Is the follow-up a step in the plan?

Just about every healthcare provider situation—from hospitals to private practices—can take a lesson from dentists about the importance of “the follow-up.” It’s an often forgotten touch point for keeping in touch, and a vital step in a comprehensive medical practice marketing program.

How many ways can you use the follow-up step in appointments, new patients, elective surgery follow-up visits, lap-band surgery, breast augmentation or reductions, LASIK and laparoscopic procedures?

Follow-up with patients about new medication instructions can also be of critical importance to compliance and outcomes. As an example, a study by Michael J. Maniaci, MD of the Mayo Clinic reviewed the of charts of 172 patients discharged after being prescribed a new medication. Of the survey respondents:

  • 86% were aware that they had been prescribed new medications.
  • Fewer could identify the name (64%) or number (74%) of their new medications or their dosages (56%), the schedule to take them (68%), or the purpose of the prescription (64%).
  • Only 22% could name at least one adverse effect.
  • Only 11% could recall being told of any adverse effects.

5 Ways To Follow-Up With Patients.

We know that running a vibrant practice may not offer you the time to keep in touch personally with each patient after each visit or procedure. So, as idea starters, here are five proven ways to follow-up with patients and build a reputation for great service as part of a medical practice marketing plan:

  • Send a thank you email when they complete their next visit.
  • Send an email reminder before their next appointment.
  • Send an email offering a brief Satisfaction Survey.
  • Send a periodic email newsletter with tips about improving their health through diet, exercise, new products, research or other information.
  • Have your front office call new clients to ask how they liked their first appointment with their new medical practice or dentist.

Your situation may require something different than this list of options, so invent your own approach. The value of “the follow-up” is in making an unexpected, positive contact.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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