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Ken Newhouse

Increase Patient Retention, Generate More High-Quality Referrals and New Patients with Gamification

Increase Patient Retention, Generate More High-Quality Referrals and New Patients with Gamification

10/24/2014 7:14:12 AM   |   Comments: 0   |   Views: 505

So what is “Gamification” and how can it increase patient retention, generate more high-quality referrals and new dental patients and improve your case acceptance average?  I’ll answer those questions and more in just a moment but first I want to review with you a well-known fact:  “It now costs an average of 4-6 times more to acquire a new patient than it does to retain an existing patient… and that gap is bound to grow even wider in the years ahead.” Whether you like it or not, we all now live, practice and run our businesses in a crowded, 24/7, global marketplace, where patients and clients are barraged with an ever-increasing level of meaningless (but attention-grabbing) distractions, offers and media noise – all competing with YOU for their attention.


Your immediate and (even more so) future success demands that you master the art of patient engagement (this applies to all ‘Users’ who visit your website, existing patients and prospective new patients alike), retain THEIR interest, drive retention and referrals. Unfortunately, significant challenges stand in your way and accomplishing this with consistency and regularity will prove a daunting (somewhat maddening) challenge for most. 

If you've been in practice (or business) for any length of time you realize that something has changed, but you can’t quite put your finger on it.   At this point, it doesn't really matter what’s behind this rapid change or who you want to blame for it… the facts are simple:  You are responsible for the success of your practice (or dental company) no matter what the business climate morphs into.  As truthful as that statement is, I realize that for most it won’t be enough… they need a reason “why” they’re patients are leaving their practice en masse… a reason that removes the burden of personal responsibility and allows them (maybe you) to blame someone (or some “thing”) for their declining practice and/or business.  

I’m not going to blame insurance companies because that’s too easy (and in spite of what you may believe, it’s not the primary reason for your declining patient base).  The BIGGEST contributor to your declining production and/or profits is simple:  Consumers (patients, Dentists, you and I) are growing tired of traditional marketing strategies and lame loyalty/retention programs. Think about it:  Do you have the time to waste wading through “targeted” emails from vendors trying to sell you stuff?  And while most Dentist don’t even have a loyalty/retention program (sorry… boring birthday cards don’t cut it), most companies do.  And by the way…  How many more tags from vendor loyalty programs can you fit on your key chain?... ‘nuff said.  

For those Dentists who DO have an old-fashion (dedicated) patient retention program, they are quickly realizing that their program’s effectiveness are waning…. giving way to online word-of-mouth and referral—which, remarkably, may now command more of your patients’ mindshare than your dental marketing campaigns.    

In an article posted on SMS Masterminds “Your Loyalty Program Sucks”, Alex wrote:  Loyalty programs should be fun, inviting, personalized and exist online and offline. I want to feel like that merchant is acknowledging that I have a choice to shop elsewhere, and appreciates my decision to spend my dollars with them.”  

As we point out in the Dental Marketing Assistant University Module #1:  Social Media Marketing Success - social media and the voice of your patients are proving difficult to influence, and the competition to get noticed on an ever-expanding array of social platforms adds increasing levels of complexity.  Only one thing is clear: It’s time for Dentists to update their strategies and push forward to a new generation of patient retention.  

Technological advances have enabled Patient Retention 3.0, a way to drive deeper, ongoing relationships with your existing and prospective patients (Dental companies:  this includes your dentist clients and dental professionals you may sell to).  

For Retention 3.0 to Be Successful, Three Essential Components (Motivation,
Big Data and Gamification) Must Be Implemented and Utilized Correctly

By combining these three components, Dentists can now (more effectively than ever) nurture the relationships they have with each and every patient (automated and effortless), reward high-value interactions and ultimately, drive more production for the practice.  Dental companies can also benefit using this same model.  Chesterfield Missouri Dentist Nathan Hartman, DDS and Delaware Dentist Terry L. Hughes, DDS have both realized that the old methods of patient retention were simply no longer effective and as a result, both have embraced Gamification and are now reaping the benefits evidenced in patient retention, referrals, patient (and employee) engagement and a practices that becoming more profitable, more fun and less stressful.

How does Gamification fit into the equation? Gamification uses all the benefits of interactive design, big data analytics and new research about universal human motivators to influence ethically influence existing, new and prospective patients, foster affinity for their brand and create an emotional iron fence around their patients that translates into never-before-seen levels of patient loyalty, retention and referral.  

Gamification produces such amazing results because it applies the same principles that inspire people to play games – achievements, status and rewards – and motivates them to accomplish high-value actions for your dental practice and/or dental company. As a result, gamification can lead to real, rapid and measurable improvements to a wide range of initiatives, including:  

Transform patients into raving fans - this doesn't include Facebook

• Patient retention and referrals

• New patient attraction

• Case Acceptance

• Marketing

• Strategic Joint Venture Partnerships  

One of the BIGGEST mistakes I see Dentists (and companies that market and sell to dentists and dental professionals) occurs in making the “one-size-fits-all (OSFA)” offers.  News Flash for Dentists:  Just like you don’t want the OSFA offers that walk into your office (and flood your mail) each day… your patients don’t want it either.  Patients want meaningful interactions with you and your practice that lead to personalized incentives based on what THEY value.    Once you incorporate gamification, you’ll find you can actually influence online conversations, reward high-value interactions (i.e., “referrals” and/or “acceptance of a big case and subsequent payment – in cash”) and ultimately, drive more production for your practice (or increase revenues for your company.   Dentists and Dental companies that are using these Gamification strategies I’ve outlined are seeing website visitors stay on their site (an average increase of 29%  longer) and page views have increased by 187%!  

What does all this mean for you and your dental practice/company? Could gamification help improve patient/customer loyalty, retention and referrals for your business?  

CLICK HERE for our Gamification Promo and the following solutions:  

  1. The fastest and most accurate method for measuring the effectiveness of your current patient retention/referral program?
  2. The 3-things you MUST do to really “know” and “understand” your patients/customers? 
  3. Are you ready for Retention 3.0?

     How you can use (and benefit from) Gamification to:

  • Increase production through patient satisfaction, retention and referral
  • Drive up total lifetime value of your patients/clients/user
  • Gather better information on what motivates your patients/clients/user to action
  • Identify and respond to trends in the behavior of your IDEAL patients/clients/user
  • Inspire employee collaboration
  • Influence word-of-mouth and referral from existing, inactive and prospective patients and Joint Venture partners
  • Amplify your reach online by encouraging and rewarding patient/client/user interactions on social media
  • Cultivate and grow patient/client/user satisfaction and willingness to promote your practice/business/platform
  • Motivate ongoing, meaningful interaction with your practice/business/online platform to help patients/clients/users recognize the value of your offering
  • Provide non-monetary rewards to incentivize certain actions, such as early or exclusive access, status, power and recognition
  • Nurture sense of community and belonging

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