Keep Your Patients Coming Back

It’s natural to assume that satisfied patients would continuously return to the same physician for treatment. So why did a recent Johns Hopkins study find that on average 23% of patients see three or more primary care physicians every two years?

Chances are that patients aren’t satisfied with some aspect of the care experience. And as EHRs start delivering on their promise of interoperability, unhappy patients will find it easier to take their business elsewhere.

Every patient you lose to another physician is revenue walking out the door. In this uncertain health care environment, it’s more important than ever to do everything possible to keep your patients coming back.

Shorten Patient Wait Times
It’s no shock patients don’t like to wait. But what may be surprising is that studies by Survey Sampling International and The Research Intelligence group found that 46% of patients actually feel disrespected by their physicians’ lack of punctuality.

Disrespecting patients obviously doesn’t bode well for keeping them. Appointment scheduling software may be the solution. Real-time practice management solutions provide a broad overview of the day’s schedule and allow staff to effortlessly make adjustments.

If your receptionist can easily spot that appointments are running 15 minutes behind schedule, he or she can call the scheduled patients ahead of time, and tell them to come in 15 minutes later to reduce wait times.

Fortify the Physician-Patient Relationship
Patients are obviously more likely to come back if you develop a strong relationship with them. Although face-to-face relationships are key, technology lets you to take this to the next level.

Take EHRs for instance. They offer features like ePrescribing; convenience patients will surely appreciate. But they also usually come equipped with patient portals. Patient portals allow you to have meaningful interactions with your patients, such as secure electronic messaging and the reviewing of lab results.

Don’t ignore social media either. Posting interesting and educational information on Facebook or Twitter allows you to reach patients even after they leave the office.

Keep Your Specialist Network Tight
Primary care physicians often have to send their patients to specialty physicians when a patient’s problem is beyond their scope of expertise. This leaves the patient’s experience in another physician’s hands.

If you send patients to a specialist who isn’t up to par, it is a poor reflection on your judgment. Make sure you’re only sending patients to specialists who deliver top-notch care.

Do this by following up with your patients. Ask them not only if the referred specialist properly treated their ailment, but also did so in a quick, friendly manner. If numerous patients have negative reports about a particular specialist, it may be time to stop referring patients there.

Remember the Details
Ever hear the saying, “it’s the little things that count?” Well, it’s true. When it comes to physician practices, small details give you the upper hand over competitors.

Things like providing waiting room magazines that weren’t published during Clinton’s presidency and having bright, friendly décor can prove as big differentiators between you and a competitor.

Perhaps the most important detail is staff friendliness. Before a patient ever gets to you for treatment, they have to interact with your staff. So even during the most stressful of days, make sure your employees are handling patients in a pleasant and welcoming manner.

It’s possible that you may be the only physician in your area and patients have no choice but to go to you for care, but this is a rare luxury. For everyone else, it’s vital to do everything in your power to cultivate a loyal patient base.

Check out our Complete Guide to Practice Management for more articles that will guide you toward a stronger practice.

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