Background of the problem
Client retention and loyalty is a very important aspect of medical services provision. These aspects if not well taken care of can lead to the movement of patients from one clinic to another in search of better medical services. The relationship between the doctors, the other staff and the patients influence retention. Companies that are achieving success in their marketing strategies pay close attention to the level of patient satisfaction in their service provision.
Marketing strategies that fail to address the needs of patients especially at individual level have led to persistent fall out in the number of patients seeking medical services in the concerned medical facilities. The decline in retention of patients in one company can be attributed to their attitudes towards the services provided at the particular facilities. (Moloney,2006)
According to Storbacka(1994),research studies on patient retention have indicated that patients have a number of requirements to be met by those in charge of the medical facilities. Among these requirements is the first visual impression. Studies have mentioned that with a very strong first visual impression, patients are likely not to think of any other facility or services than the first one they were exposed to. This means that the staff or doctors who first encounter the patients have a very big role to play in the retention of the patients.
If the patients are not treated well as they anticipate, they would get a bad impression of the staff and hence would start thinking about alternatives in future. The first visual impression should therefore be given top priority when designing a market strategy for the company. This can help to retain more patients because the first treatment would always stick in their minds.
Another important aspect of customer retention involves feeling the customers welcome during their visit to the facility. Research has found that doctors who make their patients feel welcome, impact so much on the patients. This has to do with some feeling of love and care that some patients may feel attached to the staff and the doctors. With such a feeling of welcome the return of the patient to the same company is so easy. The last interaction with the patient should be the one to be utilized to make the patient feel welcome.
Patients tend to feel better when they are appreciated by the staff and the doctors. This appreciation can be expressed in the verbal conversation between the patients and the doctors. (Moloney,2006) Patients require attention when the staff and the doctors are finalizing their conversation or dealings with them. This aspect is important in the sense that it differentiates the doctors who are just interested in completing their duties and gaining financially and those who care about the patient coming back for another medical plan.
On coming back for the second time, recognition to search patients has to be demonstrated by those in charge. According to studies, patients tend to be keen on how they are received on their second visit to the same facility. Lack of recognition at this point in time can impact negatively on their retention. (Laermer et al, 2007)
A good strategy for retaining customers requires that the doctor be involved in the scheduling for the next visit. Patients are normally very keen with the following visit to the clinic or other medical facilities. Prior arrangement with the doctor in charge on the schedule for the next visit can really work in the effort to retain the patients. Research has also pointed out that patients who are not assisted in scheduling the next visit to the clinic tend to forget about the facility and look for other services.
To help retain patients in their medical facilities, doctors must work towards reminding the patients about their net visit and the reasons as to why they should come for the visit in future. Most patients are normally keen with such explanation concerning their next visit and the reasons why such is necessary to their health and wellbeing. With this in place, retention becomes easy because the patients cannot ignore the advice given by the doctor hence they would be interested in coming back and hence their retention to the facility and services.
Studies have also continued to indicate that in facilities where patients are left on their own to decide on their next visit to the medical facilities, they tend not to come back for the services. This means that doctors have to instruct the staff to arrange and schedule for the patients next visits. This can be facilitated with the statistical records kept by the staff concerning the patients attending medical services.
Just like products out in the market, doctors ought to adopt the strategy of selling their practice to the patients. While in the execution of their duties, doctors have to ensure that they demonstrate high skills and expertise in their specialties. This is fundamental in creating the sense of trustworthiness and competence in their practice. Patients have the habit of comparing between doctors just like customers would compare between different products in the market.
Selling the practice to the patients has a lot to do with the quality of services offered. Good quality services can be instrumental in retaining most patients who would often recommend it to their friends who might not have tested the quality. Quality assurance to the patients would bring them back to the same facilities whenever they are in need of the medical services. Poor quality on the other hand is an aspect that tends to undermine retention of patients. This is because health is a very sensitive to most patients and whenever they feel that the quality of services has been comprised, they can never come back for another visit.
A good proportion of patients can fit within the practice. This should be utilized to enhance their retention levels by maintaining the required standards so keep them attached to the practice. (Stieb, 2006)
Good marketing strategies for the company require that all the efforts be directed towards the needs of the patients. Patients cannot be satisfied if their needs are not well identified by the people who are in charge of medical practice. For the patients to be retained at high levels in the company their satisfaction must be maintained at the high levels. This would guarantee that patients are contented with the services offered and hence they have no excuse to seek services from competitors. (Buchanan, &Gilles, 1990)
This study is part of the entire undertaking to uncover the truths that underlie success and service provision in medical services. For success to e achieved focus has to be put on the patients who are the stakeholders in the business. Research has been carried out by a number of people concerning the needs of patients in the provision of medical and social services. Researchers have also studied customer loyalty and patient satisfaction indexes that are relevant to this study.
This research is relevant because it identifies the attitudes and believes of patients that influence the interaction between them and the doctors and staff. These attitudes are critical in determining the retention levels of the patients. From such grounds this research would be relevant in designing and implementing patient retention plans in the organization. This study identifies the factors that determine patient retention in medical facilities.
This is in line with already established facts concerning customer retention in business organization. The role of quality services in patient retention has been emphasized in the research and previous studies have demonstrated how good products and services bring consumers back looking for them in future. All the information that has been utilized in this study is in accordance with established facts that identify the requirements for patients to be satisfied hence their retention in the company.
Definition of key terms
Patients- This term has been used to refer to the people seeking medical services for the providers.
Patient retention- This has been used to refer to the recurrent use of the same services by the patients.
Quality service has been used to refer to the specific services that address the needs of the consumers.
Delimitation of the study
The differing needs of the patients seeking medical services are an important issue to be mentioned in this study. This situation made it a bit difficult to identify and incorporate all the needs of the customers in determining their retention levels. Individual differences between patients made it difficult in determining what is understood by quality services. Patients tend to view quality in different ways and this could affect their opinion on the study especially for the qualitative data.
The type of sickness in the patients is also a factor that might have affected the results of the study but they have not been included as required. This resulted in cutting off some of the patient’s views because of such circumstances. The methods used in data collection especially with telephone interviews are likely to have altered the results of the study hence affecting the conclusions on specific patients.
Selection of subjects
The participants in this study were selected through random sampling technique. It was easy to list the names in the telephone contacts book and select on one of them to be interviewed. Each individual had an equal chance of being selected in the sample and this helped to avoid biasness. This method was simple to carry out especially with the small population that was used in the study.
The required data collected using structured interviews in the form of questionnaires. The questionnaires were administered to the selected participants though telephone and face to face communication with the patients. This tool was selected on the basis of its reliability and easy to carry out nature. The tool could cover the sample within a short time and further provided evidence that could be subjected to future verification if need arises.
Some of the staff members would be useful in collecting data using the questionnaires. This is because the staffs interact with the patients and have a good knowledge of the records of the patients in their company.
The data that would be collected using questionnaires and recorded in the questionnaire forms. The telephone conversations would also be recorded using appropriate electronic tools. They were later transferred on the questionnaire forms according to the responses that came out. The results were recorded in the form of tables on paper to be used for further analysis.
Data analysis would be undertaken using appropriate qualitative analysis tools. Recursive abstraction would be a very useful in the analysis of this qualitative data. Summaries of the facts obtained would be tabled and from this conclusions would be made concerning the data sets. The aim of this analysis would be to come up with a more compact form of summary that would be used for a more clear interpretation.
Reliability and validity of the study
This study would manage to produce reliable results because of the techniques that would be used to sample the participants. The technique would be bias free and hence more reliable by representing the views of the majority in the population. Secondly, the results of the study would be more valid because they target the main stakeholders that determine the level of retention in terms of attitudes and believes.
The opinions they would bring out in the study is directly linked to the objectives hence making it more valid. Besides verification in future is possible with the data recording techniques that would be used. In terms of the theoretical framework, this study becomes valid as it explores into the various literature that has been covered on the topic and its relevance in the study and future implementation of patient retention programs. Based on the fact that this study seek the views and opinions of the main stakeholders means that it is a valid study. (Denzin, 2000)
Ethical and diversity considerations
All the participants that would be involved in this study would be assured of confidentiality in all the information they would contribute towards the study. The highest ethical standards would be maintained during the data collection for instance patients shall not be subjected to pressure when answering questions in the study. The patients who would not be willing to participate in the study, would not be forced into answering the interview questions.
In terms of diversity the study would cover all economic classes in the society. Both the male and female participants would facilitate achievement of the objectives. The young adults would be covered just like the older adults in the study.
Overview of proposal
Understanding the needs of the patients is a very important aspect of their retention. Needs of the clients have a direct relationship with quality services in the company. Doctors being stakeholder in medical services provision believe that it is the quality of their service that can retain patients. There are believes and attitudes of patients that influence customer retention in the company. This study would endeavor to identify the attitudes and believes of customers that influence customer retention in the company.
The research would take a qualitative approach towards achieving the objectives and testing the hypothesis of the study. The findings of this study would be instrumental in understanding patients better and working towards addressing their needs and retaining them in the company.
Buchanan, R. and Gilles, C. (1990) “Value managed relationship: The key to customer retention and profitability”, European Management Journal, vol 8, no 4.
Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2000). Handbook of qualitative research ( 2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Holliday, A. R. (2007). Doing and Writing Qualitative Research, 2nd Edition. London: Sage Publications.
Laermer, Richard; Simmons, Mark, Punk Marketing, New York : Harper Collins, 2007.
Laura Lake, 2009 Explore the Value of Customer Retention.
Moloney, Chris X. (2006) “Winning Your Customer’s Loyalty: The Best Tools, Techniques and Practices” AMA Workshop Event(s). Misc. materials distributed related to event(s). San Diego.
Stieb, James A. (2006) “Clearing Up the Egoist Difficulty with Loyalty”, Journal of Business Ethics, vol 63, no 1.
Storbacka, K. Strandvik, T. and Gronroos, C. (1994) “Managing customer relationships for profit”, International Journal of Service Industry Management, vol 5, no 5, pp 21-28.