Can Your Patients Fire You?
A Special Three-Part Series
Yes. Your patients have the right to choose their own healthcare provider. They approach their relationship with you as they would with anyone else. With their health on the line, patients find it necessary to select their providers critically. Based on extensive research, we found three main reasons why patients are leaving practices. With that, we’ve created a three-part series of effective solutions to prevent your practice from losing patients:
Part Three of Three: Are You Following Up With Your Patients?
The last and final issue patients found frustrating was physicians who don’t follow up. Patients do not want to be left waiting to hear back on important lab work or test results. They want to receive their results, next set of instructions or a prescription refill as soon as possible.
Sometimes, the physician orders a test but the lab fails to do the test or fails to send back the results. Other times, the lab results are sent back to the practice but becomes lost in the paper shuffle. Unless the staff, or the physician himself asks, “Where are the test results?” the information may never get to patient. Under the privacy guidelines, physicians have to talk to the patient and cannot leave messages or speak to the spouse. Communication is key.
Here are some ways to make following up easier:
- Confirm a phone number and email address. Before your patient leaves, confirm a number and email where he or she can be reached at any time. Even if you already have it, you should always confirm contact information in case the patient has changed a number or no longer uses that email address.
- Keep your patients informed. Tell them, “You should expect to get your test results in about…., even if they’re normal.” This way, if they don’t get the results, they can follow up.
- Follow up with your staff. Where are the test results? How did the patient respond to that drug? When managing a patient’s care, follow-up is an essential part of the process. If these questions cannot be answered by your staff, there is a chance the patient never received the results.
- Keep detailed records. Sometimes the patient might be tough to get hold of. In this case, the physician should instruct staff to always document their attempts at contacting the patient, what was said to the patient and the patient’s response.