7 Winning Strategies to Combat Patient Leakage

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08/29/2019 in Blog

Patient leakage is an ongoing problem for most healthcare systems — one that requires an organization-wide strategy to combat.

Leakage occurs for a variety of reasons, but you probably incur your biggest losses when patients are referred out of your healthcare organization or network or when dissatisfaction with their patient experience leads them to seek care elsewhere. A greater prevalence of high-deductible health plans and rising out-of-pocket expenses leads consumers to price-shop more frequently, leading to more patient leakage. In addition, non-traditional forms of service delivery, such as app-based healthcare and telemedicine, are increasing in popularity and delivering stiff competition.

Because of these compounding factors, consumers are more sensitive to how quickly they can access care and how transparent pricing is. Add in the transition to value-based care, in which your organization is judged on how effective your care is, and you'll start to comprehend the large variety of issues that contribute to a rise in patient leakage.

Patient leakage can have a significant impact on your health system's bottom line. The good news, according to Deloitte, is that while more patients are looking at quality ratings and pricing tools than ever before, adoption is steadily increasing. Given this trend, your focus should be on retention.

So, what can your healthcare organization do to prevent patient leakage?

Collect and Utilize Data Efficiently

To increase consumer retention and loyalty, you must first wrangle your data. Focus on these three areas:

1. Know Your Market

As an executive, you should ensure your team tracks referral patterns to and from other health systems and facilities. By also analyzing claims data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), they can identify important information about patients, such as when they left the system and where they went next. This data can help you strategize ways to encourage more in-network referrals.

2. Consolidate Patient Data

Healthcare data is forecasted to grow 300% between 2017 and 2022, according to a report by Accenture. It is not just EHR that healthcare systems have to wrangle, but data from a whole host of additional sources, including wearables.

Given this new landscape, every health system would benefit from a single dashboard that aggregates customer interaction data from a customer relationship management (CRM) with system clinical data from EHRs, consumer data, and data from third-party providers to produce a holistic view of every patient, including their interactions with other health systems. This is where a customer data platform (CDP) comes in handy — consolidating patient insights from all data sources.

3. Compare Old and New Data

Single data points may not reveal the whole picture. Instead, you may need to compare new and old data to pinpoint the key factors that are causing patient leakage.

Past data can help shape a new outreach strategy for customer retention. Say one of your top referring providers jumps ship and begins referring to another organization. Without historical data, you may not realize the source of your leakage.

Because CDPs are equipped with AI and deep learning capabilities, using one can help you quickly identify opportunities for growth within your market, either through an additional service line or by employing a new consumer experience strategy, such as offering telemedicine services.

Inspire Patient Retention and Loyalty

The deeper into the data your health system can go, the better chance you'll have to discover what's working and what's not. By executing on these insights, you're sure to improve patient retention. Use these four strategies to inspire loyalty:

1. Document Consumer Experiences

Don't rely on word of mouth to analyze the track records of your providers. Combine patient satisfaction scores, scheduling and HL7 data, social engagement metrics, and more to learn what a top-notch consumer experience looks like for your organization. In the process, you'll discover which providers and facilities could use a tune-up. Learning how consumer differentiators like language and culture fit, or patient engagement factors like wait times and convenience, affect different segments of your audience can help you connect consumers with the right providers and facilities for their specific needs, which will improve patient satisfaction and thus retention.

2. Target Your Messaging

When beginning a marketing campaign, make sure you're including demographic and lifestyle information as well as other data points to create more personalized messages, whether the idea is to improve population health or grow revenue for a specific service line. With the wealth of data available through a CDP, you can also include preferred channels into the targeting groups to improve campaign engagement and inspire the kinds of behavior changes you want, namely repeat usage of your health system.

3. Be Transparent with Pricing

Consumers don't enjoy price “surprises" in healthcare, and they're becoming savvier than ever when it comes to cost evaluation. Systems that want to maintain patient loyalty will provide estimates of expenses upfront, and whenever possible, detailed financial statements. Doing so will help you gain their trust and their loyalty.

4. Create Convenience

Younger patients from the millennial and Gen Z generations are unhappy with traditional healthcare, according to Accenture, and research shows that we're living in an age where convenience is more important than ever among consumers. For this reason, it's important to design patient journeys that make their lives easier. Telehealth is but one example of how providers can do accommodate consumers.

Upping your patient "keepage" rate requires a proactive approach and sound strategy. By leveraging patient data to design satisfying experiences, you can inspire loyalty while improving your bottom line.