Why Medical Practices are Losing Patients and Strategies to Improve Patient Retention Rates

With the urgent needs your practice requires daily, combined with delivery of high-quality patient care, improving patient communications and engagement can seem like a low priority. But when you identify how many patients are not rescheduling appointments after cancellations or no-shows, you may change your mind about how important it really is. That’s why we decided to provide you with strategies to help reduce factors that lead to lost patients as well as how to improve your patient retention rates : 

Free Up Your Phone Lines: When we speak with patients and providers, we learn first hand how practices lose patients to administrative burdens. For example, patients report that long hold times when trying to reschedule appointments can result in a hang-up rather than a new appointment date. These patients may no-show and never return, or cancel their appointment and not reschedule for a later date if the process is too difficult. Not only does this impact your practice’s bottom line, it reduces the quality of care delivered to patients who need follow-up care. 

Automating patient communications increases patient engagement by using new technology to simplify and increase the ways patients can communicate with your office. For example, Vital Interaction provides a patient chat option, giving patients a way to text simple questions to their provider, who can respond when they are available rather than responding immediately to a patient waiting on a telephone hold. Our remote check in technology helped keep patients safe during COVID-19 shutdowns and continues to give patients the option to stay out of the waiting room, but keep their place in line.

Be Proactive: Improving your workflows with automation can also help reduce administrative burdens on your staff, by giving patients the information they need to complete paperwork in advance of their appointment or while waiting for the provider before their appointment. For those patients who come prepared or show up early, automating workflows increases the chance patients complete the required paperwork correctly the first time. It also reduces the burden on the patient to provide the required information for insurance and other requirements, a win-win for patients and administrative staff. No one likes paperwork, so making the process as simple as possible is best.

Improving your patient communications with automation also helps strengthen patient relationships over time. From sending out automated appointment reminders to sharing important updates; being proactive in your outreach not only makes your patients feel included and aware, but it also keeps your practice and services fresh in their minds. 

Identify Pain Points:  Don’t let one bad experience impact your relationship with a patient forever. Implementing post-appointment surveys can help you track patient experiences, identify needed follow-ups, and improve patient engagement. Recognizing these pain points can only help your practice as it highlights areas where you can restructure and strengthen workflows to enhance your patients’ experiences.

Establish a Safety Net: Your practice can do everything right – from customer service to effective patient outreach – yet still have no-shows and last minute cancellations. Life gets busy and sometimes your patients forget about both their appointments and rescheduling. Staying on top of these patients is no easy feat for several reasons : 

PM System Limitations : Your PM System may have the basic information of all of your patients but how effective is it when it comes to patient outreach? Does it automatically track patients for your so you can easily see whether or not they are following through on appointments and treatment plans? Usually this feature is not available which means your practice has to devise a more manual process. 

Human Error : Practices have reported that one strategy they employ is keeping an excel sheet that has lists of patients that need to reschedule appointments. However, this requires staff to manually update these lists and maintain accuracy even on busy days.

Time and Resources : Assuming your staff is able to curate and maintain an accurate list of patients that need to reschedule … What then? Is there enough time in the day for your staff to individually call each patient to try to schedule a new appointment? Or even to gather the emails of all of those patients to send a mass outreach email? Even if your staff was able to make time to commit to all of these manual follow ups, how much more time and energy would go into also tracking outreach efforts?

Medical practices need to utilize their staff to address patients in need of more immediate attention rather than manually tracking and chasing after patients that need to reschedule. It’s time your practice invests in automating reactivation strategies. Vital Interaction’s reactivation feature helps you build lists of target patients for automated re-engagement messaging. With Vital Interaction’s automated workflows and patient retention tools, you can reduce the administrative burden on personnel and improve rescheduling rates, capture lost patients, and increase patient engagement practice-wide. Sending reminders to reschedule cancelled or missed appointments, or to schedule needed care, can help increase appointment scheduling rates throughout your practice. Improving proactive patient communications, simplifying workflows to ease the burden on patients, and adding new ways patients can communicate with providers are all ways you can put technology to work for your practice, saving time and resources in the process. 

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