No healthcare organization can rest on its laurels when it comes to its patient base.
A focus on patient retention and attrition is just as important as the necessary attention given to new patient acquisition.
It is costly for hospitals to lose patients. Improving patient experience is key to prevent this from happening.
As well as ensuring patient safety and delivering a high quality of care, there are numerous parts of the patient journey that can be improved to help lower attrition rates.
A consumer-centric healthcare model is at the heart of this. Reimagining the patient experience can improve patient retention significantly.
The future of care is not just about convenience. The goal should always be to deliver exceptional patient experiences, which must be designed around customers’ needs.
Seven Patient Retention essentials
Relying on new patients to boost productivity alone is a costly mistake. Focusing on why patients leave is a profitable strategy. The reasons for attrition often relate to issues that are easily remedied. Improving retention might be easier than you think.
Here are seven 7 simple patient retention essentials you should know.
First impressions and beyond
There is often a greater focus on the small details of a patient’s first visit. After all, it’s important to set the right tone and impress. But the organizations that boast low patient attrition rates are usually those that make every encounter important, not just the initial onboarding. From janitorial staff and clerical staff to nurses, therapists, technicians, and doctors – ALL have a part to play in making a patient feel comfortable, whether they are a new patient or an existing one.
Reputation is at stake. It means that imprinting a good impression extends to all contacts, from other healthcare practices that are referral sources to vendors and suppliers and insurance company representatives. Making every encounter important should be sewn into the brand.
Patient experience goes far beyond the time spent within your walls or with a provider. Communication across the patient journey is vitally important.
Content and frequency of communications should be tailored according to need. Sending text message updates during the care delivery process dramatically increases patient engagement and overall satisfaction. Appointment reminders can help reduce no-shows.
The best communication plans start with a clear understanding of the various stages of patient flow. It’s all about communicating the right message at the right time.
Some people also want to communicate differently now, particularly since the pandemic – there is a move towards a digitally-enabled experience. People are more eager to embrace technology now than pre-COVID.
One example is the virtual waiting room, which enables patients to sign-in from outside the facility, and inform them when they are ready to be seen.
Are you listening?
It is essential to pay close attention to patients’ needs. That means listening. Really listening. If your patient is telling you about their difficult journey to get to you, take an interest in the conversation. It may seem trivial to you but listening and empathizing will help build rapport with your patient and reinforce to them that you care. Feeling looked after is essentially what all patients want.
Patient engagement has never been more important. Using patient feedback, healthcare organizations can create and offer services and features patients want rather than what suits administrations.
The patient voice is critical for providers to develop and execute patient experience strategies. Capturing feedback from any source and turning it into actionable information is the key to improving patient satisfaction and engagement. Where possible, engage at key moments of each patient’s unique journey, including before, during, and after their visit. Remember patient feedback provides powerful information for positive change.
Enable your patient feedback to grow your online presence. Your physicians star ratings appearing in Google search results allow patients to make more informed decisions when choosing a healthcare provider. Utilize tools to find online patient reviews and publish patient testimonials on your physician directory pages. This demonstrates your organization’s commitment to physician transparency. Your reputation is an important part of attrition prevention.
It’s essential that patients don’t feel judged at any time. Patients should be warmly acknowledged when they arrive, and a friendly yet professional approach should be maintained by all members of the team throughout the patient visit. This includes interactions with those accompanying the patient. Staff should receive training on how to optimize their interaction with patients. A smile and willingness to help are essential.
No one likes to be kept waiting, so do everything you can to improve wait times and stay on schedule. Of course, emergencies happen and sometimes a delay in the day’s proceedings can’t be helped. But always keep patients informed, politely, and apologize for any inconvenience caused. Patients will be more accepting of the situation if they are kept up to date.
A patient tracking solution can help you to quickly identify those patients that have been waiting the longest and uncover bottlenecks in the patient flow. Patient tracking provides insights into the issues impacting smooth flow, enabling small obstacles to be tackled before they become a bigger problem.
20% of patients change doctors due to long wait times!
Patient experience matters. It matters for health outcomes as much as it matters for an organization’s reputation. Patient retention starts with caring.
Take control of patient retention with PatientTraks’ unique platform providing patient flow solutions, healthcare online reputation management, and patient engagement tools. Contact us for more information.