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3 Ways Physicians Can Improve Patient Retention

May 13, 2019 BY Tory Waldron

3 Ways Physicians Can Improve Patient Retention

These days, patient retention is on every provider’s mind. Practices have been losing patients at an alarming rate as convenience, affordability, and accessibility are shifting to be top priorities. Unlike Baby Boomers before them, Millennials are not closely bonded to hospitals, practices, or providers – and they are willing to trade relationships with their primary care providers for less expensive and more convenient healthcare experiences.

Because it costs 90 percent less to retain current patients than find new ones, it’s important to reduce patient leakage. Implementing a few techniques can save you time and improve your retention rates:

1) Reduce wait times, communicate, express gratitude

In today’s technology-based retail world, the typical patient demands a high level of respect, service, and assistance. Patients not only want lower costs, but they also want to simply feel “good” about the visit. In order to ensure the highest levels of patient satisfaction, try to follow the following steps when interacting with patients:

Step 1: Patients hate lengthy waiting room stays, but they also hate being rushed during the visit. You know that it’s important to try to strike a balance between giving each of your patients your full attention, while also keeping things moving along – but this is easier said than done. Here are a few ways to reduce patient wait times in your practice:

  • Delegate documentation or other administrative tasks to other qualified staff
  • Gather patient information before their appointment, or reduce paperwork with an easy-to-use patient sign-in kiosk
  • Install a mobile queue tool, which allows patients to join a virtual waiting line – similar to a restaurant paging system

Step 2: Communication is key to building trust. And, patients who are actively involved in their health tend to have better outcomes. Therefore, it’s best to treat each patient visit as a collaborative effort, working toward better health together. When making recommendations, it can be helpful to really spell out your suggested methodology in words your patient can understand – and also give options. Patients will want to hear about a procedure’s benefits, risks, and alternatives – and what may happen if they do nothing.

Step 3: Thank the patient for choosing your practice. Patients have many options these days, including nearby outpatient centers and telehealth options, so let them know that their patronage is appreciated.

2) Respond to negative online reviews

In a technology-focused, consumer-oriented marketplace, it’s important for your practice to have good online reviews. Online ratings and reviews started with retail shopping and quickly expanded from there. Now, reviews are a fixture that people expect to see when they’re searching for anything, from dog walkers to job opportunities – and now healthcare providers. In fact, 80 percent of patients use the internet to make decisions about their care, according to doctor.com’s 2018 survey.

If an unhappy patient writes a review about your practice, it is in your best interest to apologize and respond to the review in a timely manner that demonstrates your concern for the patient’s well-being, while also remaining HIPPA compliant. Your empathetic, customized response will show the patient you care about their feedback and, simultaneously, show other users you have a vested interest in your patients’ satisfaction.

3) Understand your competition

If you want to attract and retain patients, you need to communicate how your services are superior to any of your competitors. You need to show what sets you apart from, and ahead of, the competition. Perhaps your quality scores are high, or your readmission rates are low!

You will want to promote your strengths to your patient population on your website and within your practice’s marketing materials. However, in order to demonstrate your worth – you need to understand your competition’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as your own. A data platform can help give you a 360-degree view of your competition, which can inform your next steps.

Learn More

Are you a healthcare provider or IDN looking for help with patient retention? Definitive Healthcare’s all-in-one healthcare data platform can help you:

  • Retain more patients in your network
  • Review referral patterns
  • Benchmark your performance against that of competitors (length of stay, quality benchmarking, readmission rates, etc.)

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