Nine Reasons why Patients Leave and How to Make them Stay

Today, patients aren’t just patients; they’re “healthcare consumers.”

With more medical costs falling on their shoulders, plus the onset of intuitive apps and user-friendly websites, patients have come to expect high-quality care, convenience, easy access, and excellent service from their medical practices.

Patients leave; it is a fact of any medical practice. However, when they do, it is crucial to understand why to retain patients in the future. Keep reading to understand why patients leave and how we can make them stay.

Patients leave because of long wait times.

Delays are a part of life, especially in medical offices, but we must do our best to work with the affected patients. When there is a delay in your office, does your staff tell your patients about it? If it will be an extensive delay, do you give the option to reschedule? Do your staff call patients scheduled later in the day and explain the delay and give them choices? Most patients will understand an unexpected delay, but they appreciate it when they are informed.

However, if there are delays for every appointment, patients will become quickly unforgiving. If long wait times are an issue at your office, it is time to look at office procedures and increase efficiency. Some strategies you may want to consider include:

  • Automated check-in will save time.
  • Texting reminders will keep your patients on time.
  • Gather documents in advance with online patient portals.
  • Enforce no-show and late arrival policies.

[Need more tips for decreasing wait times? Click here!]

Patients are feeling neglected.

Having a nurse return patient calls is an important and common practice. But there are many times patients want to speak directly with their physicians. Patients look to their physicians for guidance and security in stressful times and will leave a practice if they do not feel their doctor cares enough to return a call.

Taking the time to personally consult them and assure them that everything will be okay will strengthen the doctor and patient relationship and keep patients loyal to your practice.

They are sick of dealing with scheduling issues.

Optimizing your patient scheduling system will make it easier for your clients to get the times they want and will help you boost volume throughout the day. Ensure you have a schedule that provides a good balance for your patients and physicians.

The wrong scheduling style can create unwanted delays and overwhelm physicians. With the correct scheduling pattern, you can avoid unhappy patients who could potentially leave your practice.

Patients leave because of difficult processes.

With all the technology available to us, getting a patient scheduled and seen should be pretty straightforward. If it is difficult for a patient to call and make an appointment, get a response, or visit their doctor, they won’t stay. Give them different options for scheduling as some people feel more comfortable scheduling online while others would rather schedule in person.

Utilize a seamless appointment reminder system and ensure your patients don’t have to deal with excess paperwork. If your website doesn’t have a patient portal, implement one immediately. Patient portals are an excellent way to share and exchange necessary information with patients safely and conveniently. Ensure it is easy to navigate, give them access to payment and scheduling options and provide them with easy access to critical information such as results and records.

They forget about you.

Most practices know the importance of communicating regularly with patients. Still, social media and the changing healthcare landscape demand that physicians do more than just send out appointment reminders and birthday notes.

Boost your medical marketing strategy by maintaining an active social media presence. Encourage your patients to like and follow your channels and frequently post to keep them engaged. Consider sending out a monthly newsletter with news of your practice and timely health information; you might even want to try writing a blog on your practice website to help patients get to know you better.

Patients leave because of sticker shock. 

No one likes getting an unexpected bill, and medical costs can be hard to predict. Patients will likely leave your office with a bad taste in their mouths if they’re presented with a high charge they didn’t expect. Offering patients information about their potential costs upfront can go a long way in increasing their trust in your practice. But a lack of transparency can lead to a negative patient experience.

Be sure to tell patients about any unexpected costs they might incur due to a procedure or imaging tests. Check that their insurance covers the therapy you’re providing. And do your best to explain healthcare costs as clearly as possible so patients can understand them and make informed decisions.

Patients leave because of limited hours.

We live in a time of immediate gratification. To be able to compete, it’s time to get flexible with office hours. Even if it’s just one day during the week where you stay open late or are available for a few hours on a Saturday morning.

Your patients and their families are busy, and typical hours aren’t always possible, so give them what they need to set yourself apart from the competition.

Office appearance and professionalism.

For many patients, waiting rooms are a part of life, so make sure yours is clean, comfortable, and up to date.

Keep the office clutter-free inside and the outside fresh and well maintained. Presentation is vital, and appearances matter just as much in healthcare as any other.

Lacking customer service.

Patient care is about more than experience and procedure; you need to provide an excellent service as well. This goes for all aspects of your practice and at every stage of the experience.

While the general public may not always be the easiest to please, keeping them happy doesn’t require a Ph.D. Patients must receive the utmost care throughout each appointment experience. From appointment making and the front desk greeting to the actual treatment and a follow-up call, it is essential a patient feels valued.

With these simple tips and tricks, you will find that your patients are happier, and your less-than-satisfied patients become more loyal each day.

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