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Improve Patient Retention Through Gamification

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

It all comes back to goals – helping patients achieve

Last week I discussed improving patient retention through excellent onboarding.

Onboarding is a 21st Century term meaning, in this case, those actions you take with a new patient to introduce and orient them to their new service. The analogy would be a new passenger coming “on board” a new boat. (The link to this article is below.)

The other activity I mentioned that can improve patient retention is also a 21st term: “Gamification.”

Merriam Webster says gamification is: “the process of adding games or gamelike elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation.” The concept is not new, but it has become a science and is integrated into all video games. I cover this in detail in my book, The Goal Driven Business, which I recommend you purchase and use. (Link below.)

Games are native to our species. Even to puppies, as you see them rolling over each other. Kids love to play with their parents, and as they get older, with other kids, and then enjoy organized sports. The Olympic games began, according to one source, in 776 BCE. We love our games, and perhaps, we need them.


A game poses a challenge where you can overcome barriers and demonstrate your grit. If you win --hurray! Winning is the prize, but sometimes you also receive an award.

In ancient Greece, winners received an olive wreath as a crown. In modern Olympics, the winners receive bronze, silver, and gold medals. In some martial arts, as you advance in your skills, you are awarded different colored belts. When you graduate from college, you receive a nice certificate you can hang on your wall to impress your relatives! (sarcasm)

Your patient has accepted a challenge, along with you and the entire clinic team, to achieve certain health goals. So why not acknowledge or even reward the patient for completing specific benchmarks along the way?

Years ago, I recall some offices would have a special short ceremony for their patients once they completed their program of care. First, the staff would help the patient don a black robe used in graduation ceremonies and a graduation cap (mortarboard) and tassel. Then, they would take a polaroid snapshot (a brand of camera that produced instant hard copy photos) with the doctor and the patient in their graduation garb, give a copy to the patient and attach another to a bulletin board. I have even seen this in a hospital setting, just without the robe!

In Your Practice

Gamification can be applied in your office in many ways.

For example, after completing their 6th visit, the front desk could award patients a silver star sticker. After the 12th visit, they are awarded a gold star stuck to a coffee mug with the office name and logo. Finally, after completing their care program, the patient could receive a diamond star attached to an office t-shirt.

Gamification aims to keep everyone engaged in the “game” of achieving health goals.

One approach to bringing this about is to have a team meeting and go over this idea. Encourage unbridled creativity! Use the best ideas that make the most sense and run the program for three months on a trial basis. Set goals (and awards) for the team for percentages of patients completing their programs.

All these are examples of gamification. But even a “Glad you made it today Mrs. Jones. Good to see you and your daughter” is a kind of an award. Unfortunately, in life, we are rarely recognized for our accomplishments – and mostly for our errors.

So, compliment your patients for their courage to improve their health. It is a big deal and a major accomplishment that they even show up, let alone follow through with their care.

After all, games are fun. So, let the games begin!



If your practice building efforts aren’t taking you to your goals,

there are reasons -- many of which are hidden from you.

Find out what they are and how to sail to your next level by getting and implementing my new book, The Goal Driven Business.

The Goal Driven Business By Edward Petty


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