Practices Don’t Always Get a Second Chance
Proactive Patient Retention Can Pay Large Dividends By CINDY WOLFF
said since the clinic treats a range of patients, from Phyllis Blount remembers infants to geriatric people, when her elderly mother was and provides a continuity of in the emergency room after care not found with other a fall. Blount didn’t call Dr. practices. Vincent Smith, her moth“Patients feel they are er’s primary doctor, but he getting excellent continuity showed up anyway to check of care,” she said. “They on her. On a Saturday. want to know if I’m going Mary Jehl Kenner recalls to still be their doctor (when a time 25 years ago when she they get older).” sat for three hours in a waitThe biggest reason ing room with her daughter patients leave a medical One of patients’ biggest complaints about visits to the doctor is to see an eye doctor. Kenner, practice is because they spending a long time in the waiting room. a single mother, who took off are upset with how they work for the appointment, were treated, said Stewart complained to the doctor. patient retention steps in a practice’s conGandolf, the chief executive officer of “Make an earlier appointment next trol that can keep their patients happy Healthcare Success, a California-based time,” he said. and connected. Most medical practices marketing and advertising agency. (GanThere was no next time. Kenner use technology, training, social media and dalf’s commentary about patient retention never went back. It still makes her mad, old-fashioned attention to patients as part can be found on page .) 25 years later. of proactive patient retention. The prac“In business in general, upwards of 70 Sometimes patients leave for reasons tices contact their patients through texts percent of people who take their business beyond a medical practice’s control, such and emails. Patients can log into their elsewhere do so because they perceive an as a change in health insurance coverage, patient portals to see test results and sumattitude of indifference,” he said. “Admitthe patient moves away, or their doctor is maries of their office visits. tedly, their perception may not have been leaving or retiring from the practice. “We send reminders by text, said due to a deliberate slight or discourtesy, But there are plenty of proactive Shanna Smith, director of payment serbut the result is staggering anyway.” vices for OrthoOne. “We call them two Goodfred says that is something her days prior and send the text the night practice takes seriously. before. Our no-shows have decreased. “The behavior and attitude of the They’ve gotten so used to our contact, staff is a reflection on me, said Goodfred, that if we somehow forget to call or the “We are part of a team that takes care of text doesn’t go through, they get anxious our patients from the person who greets and call to make sure they have the right them when they walk in the door. It’s very day. They like the reminders.” important for patient retention.” Levy Dermatology also sends texts Gandolf said successful practices and emails, and they email a patient surmaintain a culture of respect and attenvey right after a patient leaves. The praction to patients’ needs and concerns, even tice, which averages about 200 patients if it’s something like the long walk from a day, gets between 20 and 30 surveys the parking lot. We invite you to attend one of our next returned them that day. “A practice should leave no room A negative comment is immediately for anyone to feel that they (the patient, executive-level educational luncheons: addressed by the office manager or Shira visitor, family member) are an intrusion Levy, the chief operations officer. or interruption to the busy office environ“We listen, we apologize, we offer ment,” Gandolf said. “Doctors and staff REGULATORY ENFORCEMENT them a free visit,” Levy said. “We deal have to pay attention to patient needs, and UPDATE with the issue.” to hear them when they share their con– SETTLEMENTS & Other ways in which the clinic praccerns. Even if the issue seems trivial or out FRAUD HOT TOPICS tices proactive patient retention includes: of your control . . . listen.” Denise Burke, Attorney, Continuous training of staff on customer The other big reason patients leave Waller Law Firm service, social media games on Facebook is because of wait times. The University such as Bingo for Botox, Instagram giveClinical Health clinic offers a half hour aways, charity events that patients are each morning at 7:30 for walk-ins, which invited to attend, an open house, free conaddresses some of the wait time issues. NEW AND EXCITING BEST sultations and free cancer screening. But since the clinic is a residency teachPRACTICES IN MEDICAL “Our retention rate is directly tied ing practice, there will be some delays, TECHNOLOGY to our attention to detail and emphasis Goodfred said. Their goal is to give each Mid-South Innovations in on the customer experience,” Levy said. patient their full attention. Technology Panel Discussion “What we hear most often that keeps OrthoOne has patients back within 5 patients coming back is the high efficiency to 10 minutes of their arrival, Smith said. TIME: 11:30am of patient flow, the friendliness of our staff, They are usually finished within 30 to 45 LOCATION: Chickasaw Country Club attentiveness of our providers and the minutes, unless it’s a complicated issue. 3395 Galloway Ave, Memphis cleanliness of the clinics.” “Staying on schedule (or close to it) is a Jennifer Goodfred, DO, medical major factor in retention; perhaps one of the PLEASE RSVP AT director of the University of Tennessee biggest,” said Smith. “There is a clear mesMIDSOUTHMGMA.ORG Health Science Center (UTHSC) Unisage of ‘indifference’ that flows when people versity Clinical Health Family Medicine frequently experience long wait times.”
The MidSouth MGMA Invites MEDICAL PRACTICE MANAGERS To Join Our Organization in 2019.
Memphis Medical News April 2019