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Patients Missing Follow-ups or Referral Appointments? How to Nip That in the Bud!

3 minutes read

There are several factors a person considers when choosing and sticking with a healthcare provider. Though location and insurance are two of the main reasons, it seems empathy is becoming equally important. A study conducted by the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Orthopaedic Surgery reveals 65 percent of patient satisfaction is attributed to physician empathy. This outweighs factors including appointment wait time and treatment choice.

This concept of “humanism in healthcare” has been part of an ongoing conversation over the past several years. If a patient doesn’t feel their emotional needs are met, they’re more likely to miss their follow-up appointments and seek care somewhere else. This means providers can’t rely on robocalls or generic, automated text messages because it eliminates a necessary human connection.

The solution is offering patients 24/7 access to speak with a helpful person! How can you do that? A patient call center. It’s more than answering patient calls and other communications. Patient call center associates are trained and equipped to provide patients an optimal healthcare experience by being helpful, informative, and empathetic. Furthermore, associates take proactive measures that make it easy for patients to get the follow-up care they need.

Many providers struggle with how to prevent patients from missing follow-ups or referral appointments. Here’s how implementing patient scheduling services can address that problem while providing value for both patient and provider.

Relieves the Burden from Patients

There must be a mindset shift that alleviates the burden from the patient as they navigate their care. Even if the initial visit goes smoothly and the patient receives recommendations for next steps, the burden is on the patient to follow-through and initiate the next appointment.

Once a patient leaves your office, tasks like finding a specialist, contacting insurance for pre-approval, and then coordinating information, tests, and record sharing between providers quickly becomes overwhelming. The patient is more likely to postpone their follow-up appointments or forget about them altogether.

A patient call center alleviates this burden with services like proactive outreach to patients with reminders and making appointments with specialists in-network. Highly-trained associates understand the right questions to ask to ensure the patient is receiving the best possible care while making it easier for them to connect with the right providers. This outreach is the human component patients are seeking, a person who can ease the stress that can come with coordinating ongoing care.

Increases Bookings & Reduces Patient Leakage for Providers

It’s not only a patient’s needs that are met through patient scheduling services. When there’s an empathetic human connection, there is increased patient satisfaction. Increased patient satisfaction means return visits and patient referrals, which leads to reduced patient leakage and increased bookings.

Every time patients have to navigate through an IVR menu or make multiple calls to connect with different providers, it increases frustration on their end and takes away from their experience. However, patient call center associates who proactively reach out ensure future bookings and keep patients in your health system.

For example, an orthopedics group realized they would fix a patient’s broken bone and then prescribe physical therapy (PT) but the patient wouldn’t book their appointment for the treatment, which was offered right there at the same office. They discovered patients took their prescription and contacted a local competitor, not realizing or being encouraged to schedule follow-up care right at the same place they received the initial treatment.

When that orthopedics group partnered with LYP Contact Center, patient call center associates were directed to contact patients within 1 day of their post-surgical appointment to schedule physical therapy follow-ups. The result was a 70 percent increase in PT bookings. Not only did it help the provider, it made it more convenient for the patient. They could keep their medical records, X-rays, MRIs, and other information in the same system and the PT providers had access to the surgeon in case they ever had questions about treatment.

Establishes Evidence-Based Care

Ensuring patient satisfaction through the help of patient scheduling services prevents missed appointments and patient leakage. However, it also shows evidence of keeping patients healthy. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has developed evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs), which serve as a framework for clinical decisions and supporting best practices. The central theme is maintaining effective communication.

Though highly technical and in-depth, these guidelines are helpful in optimizing patient care rather than applying a one-size-fits-all approach. A patient call center is adaptable to what you need and provides the level of engagement a person would receive in your office. Every patient deserves personalized care and attention. This can’t be achieved when there’s no human connection.

Give your patients the experience they deserve and increase their overall satisfaction. Contact us today and we’ll help you customize a solution that works best.

Sources:

https://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20190126/NEWS/190129976/commentary-for-more-successful-health-policy-and-outcomes-think-like-a-human

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160301114118.htm

https://www.aafp.org/family-physician/patient-care/clinical-recommendations/cpg-manual.html

 

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