If you are a doctor or work in medical practice, you have probably asked yourself these three agonizing questions:
- Why are our patients leaving for competitors?
- What are we doing wrong?
- How can we improve our level of patient service?
Why do patients leave your practice, anyway? Here are the possible reasons:
- They no longer require your services.
- They are not convinced by your prices.
- They are not satisfied with your services.
- Your office location or office hours are inconvenient.
- They do not like the way you treat them.
Why patients leave medical practices is a complicated subject.
However, any reason you can come up with will likely fall into one of these categories.
To help you understand how to retain patients, we have come up with the following reasons why your patients leave. Let’s get right into them:
1. Playing Favorites Makes Patients Leave
One of the most challenging things to do as a doctor or medical practice owner is to measure the value of a patient.
If you offer loads of discounts to patients who are just looking to redeem them and leave, it is a waste of not only money and time but also effort.
On the other hand, it is worth offering incentives to a patient who has been with the practice for years and spends hundreds of dollars on your services.
The only way to resolve this situation is by focusing on patient service.
Remember: It takes a lot of positive service experiences to make up for one bad experience. And one poor online review is enough for the majority of patients to stop considering your services.
The solution is simple: Treat all patients equally. Instead of rewarding expected loyalty, you should focus on the actual patient.
2. Lack of Convenience
In our digital world, it is not enough to sell your product or services to patients. You have to sell them comfort and convenience, as well.
Healthcare practices have to account for never-before-seen standards of convenience. For instance, good old-fashioned appointment scheduling practices are now competing with a “one-click” appointment experience.
Every innovative practice is experimenting with a mixed experience – the combination of the real world and digital.
In short, you have to do everything possible to make the patient’s journey as streamlined as possible. Otherwise, be ready to suffer the adverse effects of poor patient service.
Identify the stage at which you are losing most patients and take the appropriate action required to minimize drop-offs.
The most successful medical practices today are those that successfully combine the virtual and physical components of the patient’s experience.
3. Long Wait Times Force Patients to Walk Out
Do not let the dawn of the virtual reality age distract you from the basics. If you are in healthcare, you are likely to have front offices in some shape or form.
And where there are front offices, there is a risk of long wait time – the ultimate villain in healthcare.
For most patients, a waiting room with eight patients is no different than a waiting room with eight hundred patients.
There are many questions you may ask yourself, but the most important is this: Have you implemented a wait time management system in your medical practice?
Chances are, you have not. Probably because you do not think your wait time situation warrants a closer look. However, the importance of wait time management cannot be overstated, especially in the context of patient service.
Long wait times and disorganized appointment schedules stand in the way of retaining patients. Failing to reduce patient wait time also costs your workers countless hours they could have used more efficiently.
4. Lack of Innovation
Although patients expect a consistent service experience, there is a difference between a lack of innovation and consistency.
When all you end up offering are the same old services and processes, your patients may start wondering why. One thing your medical practice needs regularly is innovation.
Now, innovation is not something you can introduce and forget. It requires monitoring and maintenance.
The nature of healthcare makes innovation a necessary part of retaining patients. In short, what do you offer that gives you an edge?
Once again, the key here is patient convenience and comfort.
How easy can you make it for patients to make or change an appointment? Do they need to stay on the phone for longer than two minutes? Is the billing process transparent and smooth?
These are the kind of questions you can answer by implementing the latest technologies. The majority of successful practices cite innovative technologies as an integral aspect of their patient retention strategy.
Do not ignore the benefit of a patient experience survey and getting into patient psychology to understand their preferences. After all, when it comes to their convenience, your patients know best.
5. Your Competition Is Better
It is crucial to learn to take this statement not as an insult, but as a wake-up call.
It may be gratifying to think of yourself as the next star doctor.
But even geniuses need a healthy dose of reality.
You must understand that even as you are progressing and not staying in one place, it would be a mistake to assume your competitors are not.
There will always be new kids on the block right under your nose – with a broader perspective and fresh ideas. Do not hesitate to take a hint from them.
Here are the benefits of taking a closer look at competitors:
- You get to learn from their mistakes.
- You get to learn more about the local market.
- You do not have to reinvent the wheel.
Your competitors are also thinking of innovative ways to make patient retention easier and their medical practice more convenient and accessible than yours.
It does not matter if you had a head start. It is not a sprint; it is a marathon. And it will not take much for your competitors to outpace you.
Take time to identify your strengths, assess your competitors and be receptive to change. You can either resist the change that is shaking up the US healthcare industry or adapt to it.
Your competition will not wait for you to bring your A-game – and neither should you.
We understand you can count the reasons why your patients leave on the fingers of one hand, but the most prominent cause is just one: patient dissatisfaction.