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How to Increase Patient Retention

by Ryan Bucci on August 27, 2018 at 12:38 PM

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One of the things that truly drives any industry is the ability to retain customers. It is much more cost effective for companies to retain their existing customers than spend money on methods to acquire new ones. The healthcare industry is no different: patient retention is critical to increasing revenue and driving down expenses.

There are several ways that hospitals, healthcare facilities, and healthcare companies can use data analytics and insights to increase their patient retention, using such solutions to find problem areas and improve upon them. Finding those problem areas is critical to ensuring that positive relationships are maintained with your customers and the level of care can rise, of which ultimately improves patient retention.

With the goal of patient retention in mind, the following are some practical, simple tips on how to increase patient retention through data-driven insights.

Sit In the Waiting Room

Many healthcare professionals do not take the time to sit in their own waiting room for extended periods of time. Yet, one of the biggest complaints from patients is concerning the amount of time it takes to be seen by their healthcare provider.

If providers find themselves sitting in the waiting room and observing patients going in to be seen at a snail’s pace, one key insight in how to increase patient retention is readily clear: wait times need to be improved.

Patients do not want to sit in a waiting room for hours on end, especially when they do not feel well. Waiting creates the illusion that an individual’s sickness or pain is going unnoticed. When patients fail to be treated like a priority, they feel as if they do not matter, which is the last thing them to feel. You want every patient to feel as if their concerns are your top priority, and one way to do that is to ensure they are seen quickly and efficiently.

One way to manage and review the average time it takes for a patient to be seen is by having patients sign-in upon arrival and note the time. On the sheet, you would then document the time they were escorted back for evaluation.

Build Patient Trust

Oftentimes patients can simply feel like a number in the system. Therefore, one great way of increasing patient retention rates is to build trust through relationship development.

Ensure that patients feel significant by going above and beyond. For example, take extended patient profile notes that include personal information. It can mean a lot to patients when you recall that they have a family and ask about how their family is doing. You do not need to have a complete history on each family member to demonstrate that you care about the patient and are willing to learn more about them—not just what is ailing them.

Patients are much more willing to recommend their healthcare provider if they feel they have a relationship and trust with the healthcare provider. In fact, recommendations from friends and family have recently become the leading driver in business referrals. Securing those recommendations drastically cuts down on advertising and marketing expenses, which means building patient trust is another vital key to increasing patient retention.

Another efficient way to improve and build patient trust is to provide excellent customer service. Excellent customer service requires going the extra mile for your patients. For instance, make sure you have a wide selection of books, music, televisions, and magazines in your waiting room so that patients are comfortable when they are waiting to receive care. With stimulating options to occupy themselves with, patients are less likely to feel imprisoned in the waiting room.

Evaluate Metrics and Improve Upon Them

Another way to increase patient retention is to evaluate key metrics and then find ways to improve based upon the results. Sitting in the waiting room and evaluating whether or not your patient waiting times were too long was already mentioned, but there are other metrics you can similarly analyze and improve upon.

For instance, Intermedix has a range of Practice Management tools that can be utilized to help realize the rough areas that can be honed to provide the most efficient and effective care possible. Intermedix also has data-driven tools in their provider dashboard that make it easy to evaluate every process from check-in to payment. No matter what your needs, you can utilize Intermedix tools to find any areas of weakness both in the patient experience and business-side of healthcare.

Perhaps you have too many steps to check in a patient, making it difficult to maintain all of their information? As noted earlier, patients dislike waiting an exorbitant amount of time to be seen and receive care; they want their appointment completed as quickly as possible. Therefore, if the check-in process is incredibly lengthy and requires patients fill out thirty pages of documents before they are seen, the chance of retaining those patients as customers moving forward is low. They are much more likely to go to a healthcare provider with a more streamlined process.

Conclusion

Patient retention rates determine how much money is spent on advertising to attract new customers; it is much cheaper to retain an existing patient as a customer than to work even harder and spend more money attempting to attract new clientele. The focus, then, becomes retention.

For those struggling with patient retention, consider acting upon the tips above and, if able, investing in a data analytics solution that will ultimately help cut down on inefficiencies and improve patient retention rates across the board.

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This post was written by Ryan Bucci

Ryan Bucci is a Content Strategist with HospitalCareers. HospitalCareers is the leading recruitment platform for healthcare job seekers. Healthcare job seekers can find over 28,000+ healthcare jobs, career advice, and career insights on HospitalCareers.