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The Definitive Guide to Loyalty Programs

  • Exclusive tips and insights to take your loyalty marketing to the next level.
  • How to increase brand loyalty through careful planning and strategy?
  • How can Voucherify help you get started with loyalty marketing?
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Marketing
Healthcare Loyalty Programs: How to Maximize Patient Experience and Benefits in 2024?
Anna Dawal
Anna Dawal
January 9, 2024
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Healthcare Loyalty Programs: How to Maximize Patient Experience and Benefits in 2024?

According to the Patient Pop’s Survey Report, patient churn rates are concerning, with more than one-third of patients (36%) reporting that they have switched healthcare providers within the past two years. The primary reasons for leaving, cited by 8 out of 10 patients, were subpar in-person experiences and ineffective communication.

In the current landscape, where the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened patient awareness about health and well-being, healthcare providers face a pressing need to enhance their services to ensure optimal experiences for those seeking medical assistance. Implementing a healthcare loyalty program can be a valuable strategy for retaining patients, meeting their evolving needs, and securing the continuity of your healthcare businesses.

This article delves into the challenges of the healthcare industry, explores the concept of healthcare loyalty programs, and highlights the benefits they offer to clinics and other healthcare and wellness providers. Additionally, I will explore different loyalty programs types suitable for the healthcare industry and discuss various loyalty rewards that can be offered to patients.

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What are the key challenges for healthcare businesses?

1. Leveraging patient retention

One of the critical challenges for healthcare businesses is retaining patients and preventing them from switching providers. Poor customer service is a major driver of patient dissatisfaction and can lead to patient churn. Factors such as long wait times, difficulty in scheduling appointments, lack of responsiveness to patient concerns, and ineffective communication can all contribute to a negative customer experience. 

2. Fostering patient loyalty

Patient retention is crucial for the long-term success of healthcare businesses. It is more cost-effective to retain existing patients than to acquire new ones. However, retaining patients can be challenging due to various factors. These may include limited access to care, lack of engagement and personalized communication, suboptimal patient experiences, and competition from other healthcare providers

3. Attracting new patients

Patient acquisition is a constant challenge for healthcare businesses. The healthcare industry is highly competitive, and patients have numerous options to choose from. Therefore, healthcare businesses must develop effective marketing strategies, establish strong referral networks, and differentiate themselves from competitors. They should emphasize their unique value proposition, highlight their expertise, and engage in targeted outreach to attract new patients. Additionally, leveraging online platforms, social media, and digital marketing can help improve patient acquisition.

4. Improving the healthcare experience

Enhancing the healthcare experience is a critical challenge for healthcare businesses. Patients increasingly expect a consumer-oriented approach, where they are treated as active participants in their care rather than passive recipients. Improving the healthcare experience can take many forms – from reducing wait times and providing personalized care plans to implementing patient-friendly technologies and creating welcoming and comfortable environments

Healthcare businesses must prioritize delivering exceptional customer service by addressing these issues and ensuring prompt and compassionate care. One way to combat the above challenges is implementing a patient loyalty program at a healthcare establishment. 

What is a healthcare loyalty program?

Healthcare loyalty program is a structured initiative implemented by healthcare providers or organizations to incentivize and reward patient loyalty. Like loyalty programs in other industries, a healthcare loyalty program aims to cultivate long-term relationships with patients by offering various benefits, incentives, and rewards for their continued engagement and utilization of healthcare services.

Healthcare and wellness loyalty programs are suitable for all types of healthcare practice – from hospitals, clinics, and health insurance groups to health tech startups or mental health support organizations

There are two key patient concerns that a well-implemented healthcare loyalty program can help solve: 

  • Trust: non-financial incentives can play a significant role in enhancing consumer trust and engagement with their healthcare brand. These incentives serve as a powerful signal that the healthcare provider prioritizes the well-being of its patients above all other considerations.
  • Financial concerns: you can foster trust by providing transparent financial details of your services, a demand that many consumers eagerly seek. Financial incentives play a pivotal role in this realm, motivating healthcare providers to disclose information openly and build a stronger connection with patients.

What are the benefits of running a healthcare loyalty program?

Loyalty programs are not just about retaining patients; they are about forging a lasting bond built on trust, care, and mutual commitment. Loyalty programs serve as a beacon, illuminating the path towards better healthcare experiences, empowering patients to take charge of their well-being, and fostering a sense of belonging within a healthcare community. 

Here are other benefits of a wellness rewards program:

  • Enhanced patient acquisition: A well-designed loyalty program can attract new patients to your healthcare practice or organization. By offering unique benefits and incentives, you can differentiate yourself from competitors and entice potential patients to choose your services. Naturally, patients are more likely to choose and remain loyal to a healthcare organization that offers additional values.
  • Increased patient retention and loyalty: Patient rewards programs foster a sense of loyalty and engagement among existing patients. By rewarding their continued interaction and adherence to treatment plans, you can enhance patient retention and reduce churn rates. Loyal patients are likelier to stay with your practice, seek care when needed, and recommend your services to others.
  • Data-driven insights for personalized healthcare delivery: Loyalty programs provide a valuable source of patient data and insights. By analyzing patient interactions and preferences, you can gain a deeper understanding of their healthcare needs and preferences, which will allow for providing proactive interventions that align with each patient's specific requirements. 
  • Streamlined appointment scheduling: Loyalty programs in healthcare often incorporate features like online portals, mobile apps, or dedicated customer service channels. These tools streamline the appointment scheduling process, making it easier for patients to access necessary medical care. 
  • Access to medical information: Healthcare loyalty programs can also provide patients with convenient access to their medical information, such as test results, treatment history, and medication reminders, enhancing patient engagement and self-management.

Types of loyalty programs that you can run in healthcare

In addition to the benefits discussed, let's further explore some specific types of loyalty programs that healthcare providers can consider implementing:

1. Point-based loyalty programs

These programs allow patients to accumulate points based on their interactions and purchases within the healthcare provider's ecosystem. Patients can then redeem these points for various rewards or discounts on future healthcare services.

Aetna, an American healthcare insurance company, offers the Aetna Health Rewards program. Members can earn points by engaging in healthy behaviors, such as getting an annual wellness exam, completing online health assessments, and participating in wellness programs. Points can be redeemed for discounts on gym memberships, fitness equipment, and other health-related products and services.

Aetna: Better Care Rewards point-based healthcare loyalty program

2. Coalition loyalty programs

By collaborating with other healthcare-related establishments such as pharmacies, gift shops, or wellness centers, healthcare providers can create a coalition loyalty program. This allows patients to earn and redeem loyalty points across multiple establishments within the same healthcare provider or company, enhancing the value and flexibility of the program.

Shoppers Drug Mart is a leading pharmacy retailer offering the PC Optimum program, a coalition loyalty program. PC Optimum allows customers to earn and redeem loyalty points not only at Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix pharmacies but also at other partner locations, including grocery stores, gas stations, and other retail outlets affiliated with the program. 

Shoppers Drug Mart patient healthcare loyalty program: PC Optimum

3. Tiered loyalty programs

Offering different loyalty tiers within a loyalty program, such as a VIP patient loyalty program, can incentivize patients to reach higher levels by providing exclusive benefits and privileges. This tiered approach encourages clients to actively engage with the healthcare provider, thereby increasing their loyalty and satisfaction.

UnitedHealthcare, one of the largest healthcare insurance providers in the United States, offers a tiered loyalty program called Motion. The program is designed to incentivize and reward members for adopting healthy habits and engaging in physical activity.

The program assigns points or credits to members based on their physical activity levels – accumulated points contribute to tier advancement. Higher activity levels and consistency in meeting activity goals help members move up to higher tiers.

UnitedHealthcare: Motion tiered healthcare loyalty program

4. Loyalty and referral program combinations

Integrating referral and loyalty programs can be a powerful way to leverage existing patients as brand ambassadors. By rewarding both the referring patient and the new patient, healthcare providers can drive patient referrals while fostering loyalty.

Row chart: resources that contribute to patients' decisions when choosing a healthcare provider

As seen in the above chart, patients rely on reviews from other patients when assessing and choosing a healthcare provider. Therefore, implementing a loyalty program that is combined with a referral one can guarantee success both in terms of existing patients’ satisfaction and new patient acquisition. 

5. Paid membership programs

Offering paid membership programs can provide patients with additional perks and benefits beyond the standard loyalty program. This can include access to exclusive services, priority scheduling, or special discounts, creating a sense of exclusivity and value for members.

Parsley Health is a membership-based healthcare provider focusing on holistic and functional medicine. Members pay a monthly or annual fee and receive personalized health plans, functional medicine consultations, advanced testing, and ongoing care from a dedicated healthcare team.

Parsley Health: paid-membership healthcare loyalty program

6. Wellness loyalty programs

Integrating wellness programs into loyalty initiatives can promote a holistic approach to patient care. These programs may include personalized health coaching, access to fitness classes, nutrition consultations, or mental health resources, encouraging patients to prioritize their overall well-being.

Blue365 is a wellness program offered by various Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) health insurance companies across the United States. BCBS members can access exclusive discounts and offers on wellness products and services, including fitness club memberships, healthy lifestyle programs, and wellness products.

Blue Cross Blue Shield: Blue365 wellness healthcare loyalty program

7. Cumulative loyalty programs

Cumulative loyalty programs allow patients to accumulate rewards or benefits over extended periods, incentivizing ongoing engagement and loyalty. This can be particularly effective for chronic or long-term care scenarios, where patients may require continued support and follow-up services.

Cleveland Clinic, a popular US healthcare provider, has a cumulative loyalty program through their MyChart Rewards program. Patients can accumulate points by actively using the MyChart patient portal, engaging in various healthcare activities, and accessing their health records. These points can then be redeemed for rewards such as gift cards, service discounts, or even charitable donations.

Example of a patient loyalty program: Cleveland Clinic and MyChart

8. Invitation to events 

Hosting exclusive events, such as educational seminars, health fairs, or community gatherings, allows healthcare providers to connect with patients more deeply. Inviting loyalty program members to these events can enhance patient engagement and foster a sense of belonging within the healthcare community.

Kaiser Permanente, a healthcare provider and insurance company, offers a loyalty program that includes invitations to events. Members of their Thrive loyalty program may receive exclusive invites to wellness events, health fairs, educational seminars, and workshops. These events cover a wide range of topics, including nutrition, exercise, stress management, preventive care, and chronic disease management.

Kaiser Permanente: Thrive healthcare loyalty program offering invitation to events

By carefully considering these different loyalty program approaches, healthcare providers can tailor their strategies to meet the unique needs and preferences of their patient base, ultimately driving patient loyalty, satisfaction, and positive health outcomes.

Types of rewards that you can retain your patients with

As we talked about the kinds of healthcare loyalty programs that you can offer, let’s now delve into rewards that your patients are much likely to enjoy:

  • Free health check-ups: Offering free health check-ups or screenings can be an attractive reward for patients. These can include preventive screenings, annual check-ups, or specific tests related to their health concerns. Providing such services as part of a loyalty program demonstrates a commitment to proactive healthcare management and promotes early detection of potential health issues.
  • Personalized care and priority access: Implementing a tiered loyalty program can provide patients with personalized care and priority access to services. This can include benefits like dedicated appointment slots, shorter wait times, or access to a specialized care team. Tailoring the level of care based on a patient's loyalty status not only enhances their experience but also makes them feel valued and well taken care of.
  • Health and wellness products: Rewarding patients with health and wellness products can be an effective way to support their overall well-being. This can include offering discounts or free samples of vitamins, supplements, fitness equipment, or other products that align with their health goals. 
  • VIP discounts at a pharmacy or gift shop: Offering exclusive deals at the on-site pharmacy or gift shop creates an additional incentive for patients to participate in a loyalty program. This can include discounted prescription medications, over-the-counter products, health-related accessories, or even unique gifts. 
  • Free parking: In specific healthcare settings where parking can be challenging, offering free parking as a loyalty program perk can be highly valued by patients. This convenience can enhance the overall experience, reduce potential stress or logistical challenges, and demonstrate the healthcare provider's commitment to providing a seamless and patient-friendly environment.

Why should you implement Voucherify to run a healthcare rewards program?

As an API-first software, Voucherify can seamlessly integrate with your existing healthcare systems, such as electronic health records (EHR) or CRM systems. This integration lets you track customer data, transaction history, and loyalty program metrics in real time, providing valuable insights for targeted marketing campaigns and program optimization.

On top of that, thanks to our system’s scalability, we can accommodate businesses of all sizes, from small clinics to large hospital networks, ensuring that your loyalty program can scale as your healthcare organization grows.

Voucherify dashboard: create your own healthcare loyalty program

In Voucherify, we bet on personalization and automation – you can automate various aspects of your healthcare loyalty program, such as reward issuance, expiration management, and customer segmentation. Our platform also features personalized messaging and targeted promotions, enabling you to deliver relevant offers to specific patient segments or tiers based on their healthcare needs and preferences.

If your clinic or any other healthcare establishment has an extensive network, Voucherify supports multiple channels, including online platforms, mobile apps, and physical locations. This allows healthcare providers to engage customers across various touchpoints and deliver a consistent loyalty experience. 

American pharmaceutical giant working with Voucherify

One of the American pharma giants has already trusted us and integrated with Voucherify in less than a month. 

The two biggest challenges that they faced were:

  • The need for a promotion management system that could handle discount coupons valid only for specific product categories.
  • The lack of a platform that would be quickly and easily integrated with the company’s existing tech stack – Hybris, Salesforce, and Marketing Cloud.

This healthcare client chose Voucherify because of its affordability, lightweight, non-intrusive application, and plenty of out-of-the-box features. One of the most important features was ready integrations with CRM systems

Thanks to a readily available integration with Salesforce that Voucherify offers and Voucherify’s API-first build, they have managed to integrate in less than one month (their e-commerce is based on Hybris). 

Conclusion

Healthcare rewards programs hold immense potential for healthcare providers in enhancing patient retention, improving health outcomes, and ensuring long-term loyalty. By offering personalized incentives, such programs can address the evolving needs of patients while fostering stronger patient-provider relationships. 

As healthcare providers navigate the challenges of the current healthcare landscape, it is crucial to explore and implement loyalty programs as a proactive approach to meet patient expectations and secure the future success of their practices. 

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