Do your services support patient recruitment and retention efforts?

Effective patient recruitment and retention are critical to helping practices survive—and hopefully thrive—in an ever-evolving healthcare environment. 

While there are many factors that play a role in the dynamics involved, one essential need is to understand what current and future patients are looking for from their providers. 

Why Some Patients Leave Practices

PatientPop’s 3rd annual patient perspective survey published in June of last year revealed that patients are leaving practices and why they’re doing it: “More than one-third of patients (36 percent) say they have left a healthcare provider in the past two years — eight of 10 did so because of a poor in-person experience and/or lack of access and communication. …Top reasons patients listed for leaving include: a poor experience with a healthcare provider, a poor experience with office staff, slow or no response to questions, and long wait times at the practice.”

Such findings underscore how important the in-person experience is, which is why patients in the study ranked it as their highest priority. Specifically—in addition to quality care—respondents listed the top 5 factors in this context as:

  • “Their healthcare provider being a good listener”—67.1 %
  • “A short wait”—52.4%
  • “A welcoming staff”—49.7%
  • “A prompt response to questions and concerns”—46.9%
  • “Available appointments when they need”—46.4 %

Respondents said they’d also like to have:

  • “Online access to my health records”—40.2%
  • “Flexible hours/late hours”—37.6%
  • “Option to book appointment online”—30.9%

The majority of those polled also said they’d rather interact digitally for “five key interactions” they have with practices: “At least 51 percent of patients favor digital interactions when: scheduling an appointment, filling out forms, asking a provider a question, paying a bill, and accessing health records.”

Another majority preference? Text messaging for communications about appointments: “Two-thirds of patients (66 percent) prefer text messages when receiving medical appointment reminders. Additionally, 59 percent would also like text message reminders to book their next appointment.”

PatientPop said the results of the survey indicate what patients really want, referring to it as “the patient experience ‘sweet spot’”—which they define as “a personal connection with providers as well as digital convenience, most notably in between visits.”

What Attracts Patients to a Practice

A more recent Tegria survey conducted by The Harris Poll uncovered similar results, providing some key insights about the importance patients and prospects place on being able to tap into “appealing services.” 

The online survey was conducted from January 4-6, 2022 “among 2,019 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 1,611 have seen a new healthcare provider in the past 5 years.” Participants were polled “regarding their feelings about scheduling and meeting with a new physician for the first time, using related technology and preferences for their overall healthcare experience.”

Researchers found that 69% of Americans surveyed “would consider switching to another provider that offers more appealing services.”

Top issues cited that might influence such a decision included:

  • “The availability of same-day appointments for non-routine issues (35%)”
  • “Convenient locations where they already go (30%)”
  • “Self-scheduling (29%)”

Having more control over their care is so important that 81% of those surveyed “believe the ability to schedule healthcare appointments online would make the scheduling process much easier” and 79% said they “want the ability to use technology when managing their healthcare experience.”

In a press release announcing the results, Rodina Bizri-Baryak, Tegria’s director of patient access and technology said, “This new data underscores our observation that the first steps in a healthcare journey are critical to patient retention, but the welcome experience often does not meet modern expectations. Providers need to change now or watch as others who do a better job at offering convenience and customer service take over their roles as community caregivers.”

Here are additional key findings from the survey: 

  • 61%—”would like their healthcare experience to be more like the customer experience of an online convenience service app, such as Amazon Prime, Uber, or Instacart”
  • 60%—”find the process of seeing a new healthcare provider to be frustrating”
  • 56%—“kindness from the provider is important when meeting…for the first time”
  • 52%—kindness “from the office staff is important when meeting with healthcare providers for the first time”
  • 75%—“have found technology helpful when working with a new healthcare provider such as getting test results, asking medical questions, or paying their medical bills”
  • 59%—of all participants “would be open to having a virtual appointment for their first visit with a new provider. However, adults age 65+ are much less likely to feel this way (37% vs. 65% under age 65).”

“There is definitely room to improve the welcome and overall experience for everyone involved in healthcare, meaning patients, clinicians and support staff,” Bizri-Baryak added in the release. “Ideas from other consumer-facing industries can help. Our customers have adapted best practices from retail, travel and tourism and entertainment companies to provide warmer welcomes and less red tape. This has kept the focus where it belongs—on providing great clinical care—and has led to improved patient retention and growth.”

Optimizing the Patient Experience

Trends like these that demonstrate the importance of creating quality, personalized experiences for patients were also described in our 2022 Healthcare Marketing Trends whitepaper.  

For instance, one survey cited revealed that 75% of consumers polled said they wanted their healthcare experience to be “more personalized.” 

Other research cited in the report concurred, such as that from the American Hospital Association (AHA): “While patients want the convenience and ease of digital interactions, personalized care is still the touchstone of their loyalty.”

To learn more about how you can optimize the patient experience to support your recruitment and retention efforts, download the Whitepaper: 2022 Healthcare Marketing Trends.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you adapt to the evolving marketing landscape and ramp up your efforts, please contact us today.

Published On: April 6, 2022

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