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Care coordination: the next big thing in patient loyalty

Posted by Todd Johnson on July 22, 2019

Healthcare is a competitive marketplace. Consumers nowadays are savvy, demanding frictionless access, convenience and a personalized experience. From the transition to digital consumer health to the always-on nature of remote patient monitoring, the industry is constantly evolving and drawing patients and providers along with it. Health systems who want to stay competitive must have a new strategy for keeping patients in their network, as patients now have many options from which to choose.

Progressive health systems looking to grow should review their repeat visits or the inverse, leakage. This is an easily overlooked area that can lead to a tremendous amount of revenue being lost. In fact, according to a 2018 study conducted by Sage Growth Partners on behalf of referral management platform Fibroblast, nearly half (43%) of healthcare organizations surveyed reported losing over 10% of revenue due to patient leakage. Further, 23% of executives do not even track patient leakage as a metric. Put in perspective, a hospital generating $700 million per year stands to lose upwards of $7 million if patient leakage is not stemmed.

In an effort to understand the broader picture, health systems that don’t adapt to meet consumer demands may find themselves asking one key question: “Where have we failed if patients we’ve served are choosing to go elsewhere?”

It's about more than just satisfaction

There are a lot of moving parts a patient might need to interact with in-network (e.g., pharmacy, physical therapy, surgical provider, etc.). But a patient’s measure of satisfaction is much more complex than just any one of these transactions. This is why health systems who can make it easy for their patients to progress through their care journey will come out ahead in the long run.

Acting as a guide through the twists and turns of a healthcare journey is one way health systems can elevate their assessments from just patient satisfaction. These are the systems that will be able to ask a patient at the end of their journey, “would you return to us for future care?” and receive an affirmative, excited “yes!” That’s almost a more important measure — encouraging patient loyalty is key to increasing revenue and influencing satisfaction.

It can’t be understated: Health systems that can create a seamless, coordinated and convenient experience for their patients will thrive in today’s modern marketplace.

Finding a partner patients can trust

Patient satisfaction has traditionally been important, but ease of use, convenience and meeting patients where they are are also key. All of this is wrapped up in care coordination. Coordinating the care journey along every step of the way leaves the patient viewing his or her health system as a trusted partner, one they will want to return to time and time again.

A large burden of this trustworthiness falls on the digital solutions health systems choose to present to their patients. The right healthcare technology partner should:

  • Know who patients are
    • What are their concerns and ailments? What have they already dealt with?
  • Know patients’ preferences
    • How do they want to be contacted? In which medium?
  • Understand their “context”
    • Where are they located physically? What stage of recovery are they in?
  • Know what they have to do next and guide them to it
    • Should they see a provider as follow-up to surgery, for example? Do they require a reminder?
  • Provide convenient access to the people who are helpful and can care for them
    • Who is the right provider? Have others vouched for the quality of care they’ll receive?

The bottom line

As an industry, we’ve been chasing patient satisfaction, but for most modern healthcare systems, the answer is really about care coordination. It’s less about any particular number of touchpoints and more about high-quality communication predicated on knowing a patient’s history, needs and wants.

By integrating technology into the lives of patients, we’ll drive them to keep coming back — even better, they’ll want to come back, because they’re receiving value that they simply can’t find anywhere else. And that’s a kind of patient loyalty you can’t buy, and one that competing health systems won’t be able to match.