Medical practices spend a great deal of money and energy on retaining patients and allowing them to make regular contact. Unfortunately, poor patient retention levels and appointment no-shows are a regular occurrence in nearly every medical field. Here are some of the most prominent factors that can lead to poor patient retention in the United States.
Lack Of Reminders
One of the most common causes is a lack of adequate appointment reminders. People living increasingly busy lives can’t typically remember everything that they are supposed to do unless they are given timely and regular prompts.
Time Between Contacts
Patients are quite capable of slipping away from a clinic if there are significant lapses of time between appointments or general contact. Programs like Brevium’s patient reactivation software helps clinics to reconnect with patients that have fallen off the radar, so to speak.
Fear And Embarrassment
Despite the best efforts of healthcare and public health professionals, there is still a stigma surrounding a great many illnesses. Patients may opt to suspend their healthcare due to fear and embarrassment in some cases. Healthcare organizations need to actively participate in campaigns designed to cut down on health stigma. There is a particular stigma around mental and sexual health.
Poor Care Standards
Patients ultimately have a choice: they can choose to leave a clinic if it is not offering the correct standard of care. Clinics that offer sub-par care tend to hemorrhage patients swiftly. Thorough investigations into any areas of sub-par care are critical in any clinical setting. Part of the reason why clinics are reluctant to make sacrifices in order to improve care is linked to how doctors are paid. Doctors are paid for the hours they work – not their results. This causes an obvious disjoint between quality and profit=seeking.
Unfortunately, the United States of America has a broken healthcare system in which poor people are expected to pay more – relatively speaking – than rich people for healthcare. Although health insurance policies make seeing a doctor far more affordable, there are many Americans that live without health insurance. There are currently around 31 million uninsured Americans, and this number is rising at an alarming rate. Financial difficulty can mean that people are forced to turn away from seeking medical attention unless they desperately need it. Clinics can retain patients by offering payment plans that will suit uninsured people that are experiencing financial difficulties. Ultimately, however, the problem will not be solved without a major shift in political will.
Poor Customer Service
Patients sometimes opt not to come in for their appointments, or even leave a practice altogether, owing to negative experiences they have had while communicating with staff. If clinic staff are rude, patronizing. or unhelpful in communications over the telephone or the internet, then patients will often seek out other options for their healthcare needs. For this reason, it is extremely important that all staff that interact with patients are thoroughly trained on how to handle patient queries and complaints empathetically. Retaining patients involves treating them with dignity.