How to stop your patients from lapsing
In a previous blog post, I talked about the difference between the Lapsing Patient and Lapsing Client reports. Need a reminder? You can find it here. I mentioned at the end that I would provide some additional information in a future post, about some things you can do if you have exhausted the traditional methods of recapturing lapsing patients. So here we go!
First, let’s make sure that we’re on the same page as to the definition of a lapsing patient. Patients are considered lapsing when they haven’t been into the practice in 14-18 months. Once they pass the 18-month mark, they are then lapsed. According to our data, the typical practice has a huge chunk of lapsed patients. On average, lapsed patients represent 20% of a practice’s active patient count. Once they lapse, it is very difficult to get them to come back. That’s why a lapsing patient reengagement program is so important to the health of your practice.
The key to a successful program is consistency. And, your lapsing patient reengagement program should include steps that you take while a patient is still active, to prevent them from lapsing at all. Here are some tactics that have proven effective in my experience as a Practice Manager:
Collect client emails:
This ensures that clients will receive an email reminder of their pet’s upcoming appointments, or appointments that need to be scheduled. If your team is struggling with this, read the blog article that I wrote about how to set SMART goals to work through the areas of opportunity found in your reports. I used client email collection as my example.
Don’t stop sending postcards:
Believe it or not, many clients still depend on that postcard! I have seen several practices whose lapsing patient counts doubled or tripled, and remained that way, starting the exact month that they decided to stop sending postcard reminders and only send emails. I have never seen a practice with 100% email collection for all their clients, so deciding to stop sending postcards will guarantee that your lapsing patient count will soar.
Always enter a reminder for every patient:
This ensures that they will receive some form of communication with you down the road. Many first time patients come in for a problem visit, not preventive care. This presents the opportunity to invite the patient back for their preventive care, after the problem has been resolved.
Your Practice Overview Report now shows your forward booking rate. Be sure that every patient has their next visit already scheduled before they leave your practice.
Make it easy for your clients to book an appointment with you:
Have an appointment request option on your website, or even better, get a mobile app like Vet2Pet for your practice so your clients can send requests right from their smartphone. Most mobile apps also integrate with your practice software, and will send your clients notifications of upcoming services and appointments as well. I also recommend that you consider offering extended hours on a weeknight or weekend, to make it easier for those clients who work 8-5 every day.
So, you’ve implemented these suggestions and you still have lapsing patients. Now what?
First, we need to realize that it is likely these patients are lapsing because the pet owner hasn’t had a chance to call and make an appointment. It doesn’t mean our clients are bad pet parents, but life does happen, so we must be understanding and accommodating.
Consider signing up for our RETRIEVER email program
This is the ultimate program to guarantee consistency, and it’s totally automated. All you need to do is open the monthly report to see how many patients came back in, and how much revenue was generated. In the first six weeks since we officially launched RETRIEVER, a total of 168 lapsing patients returned for the preventive care that they need to live their best life, and on average, each practice earned $1,982 in revenue from these patients. This program will take care of the lapsing patients who haven’t been into the practice for 14, 16 and 18 months. Learn more about RETRIEVER!
This leaves just the small (hopefully) group of patients that remain on your lapsing patient report in the 15th and 17th months of lapsing (and if you use RETRIEVER, they will receive an email next month). Consider divvying up the list of patients in the 15th month of lapsing amongst your staff. Have each one make a personal phone call to the clients on their list and offer to schedule an appointment. Use the Lapsing Client Toolkit to help with scripts and training!
For patients in the 17th month, a phone call or signed letter from a doctor may do the trick. You can see which doctor was the last one to see each patient on your Lapsing Patient Report, so all you need to do is give each doctor their list and have them call those clients. You can also create a template for mailing a letter to these clients. Once you print the letters, give the stack to each doctor to sign personally before you mail it.
Keep up the good work!
Remember, consistency is key. So don’t start something you can’t continue. If you don’t have a plan in place, consider starting with RETRIEVER first, and take the time to figure out what other programs or systems you will be able to put into place down the road. RETRIEVER is available to VetSuccess members for $39 per month. Based on the stats we are already seeing, RETRIEVER is generating enough revenue for practices to more than pay for the membership and the cost of RETRIEVER.
If you have a success story or any other ideas for how to capture lapsing patients, please share! You can call me at 866-408-8554 x270, or email your story to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.