It’s a tale as old as time. The Jones family has been coming to your office for over five years. They bring the kids in for checkups regularly. They always pay on time. One day, you realize that you haven’t seen them in a while. Checking the records, you notice that no one showed for their last scheduled exam. In fact, none of the family members have been in for over a year.
What happened? Did they move? Did their insurance change? Or—worst of all—did something happen to scare them away?
Studies show that it costs five times more to attract a new patient than it does to keep an existing one. Depending on the specialty, that loss in the medical field can often be multiplied. Many practices see multiple members of the same family. This means that the loss of a single patient can turn into the loss of an entire family.
On-going recare programs are critical to success
Investing time and effort into a patient recare strategy is much more than just a good idea—it’s an absolute necessity. It is not uncommon to come across medical practices with 5,000 patient charts where they only see 800-1,000 patients regularly.
Even if your practice only has several hundred dormant accounts, that is significant revenue being lost every month. Attracting new patients to fill those empty spots takes a lot of time and money.
What is recare?
Recare, recall, reactivation, outreach—a variety of terms describing how a patient is brought back into activity have been tossed around. For many years, the favored word was recall. But over the last decade, many practices started to avoid that particular term. Many professionals felt “recall” decreased the vital importance of a return medical visit. It put the focus on revenue rather than the need to reduce potential disease in inactive patients.
Recare focuses on CARE. It is one of the most important things a practice can implement–both for the benefit of the patients’ health and for the financial stability of the office.
Reasons recare programs fail
Unfortunately, many recare programs are just plain ineffective. This is especially true when your recare program is too hard to maintain.
What does the typical recare program look like? Someone (usually a front desk person) gets the daunting task of finding and calling all overdue patients. This is a much-hated job because there is little reward for so much work. Before the call can be made, research has to be completed — when was the patient most recently seen, what does their insurance allow, what procedures are needed, how long should the appointment last, and is there a balance due? Then all phone numbers must be called and messages left at each number.
The result? Typically only one in 20 calls end up scheduling. This is an incredibly inefficient and frustrating process.
Monitoring the schedules for each of your patients’ preventative maintenance and follow-up needs is time-consuming and tedious when done manually. More importantly, it takes away from your ability to focus on patients already in your office. With so many patients, it is absolutely necessary that your recare efforts are automated. It is simply impossible to keep up otherwise. You shouldn’t need to spend more than 30 minutes per day on recare activities.
Taking advantage of an automated system will allow you to send messages to patients due or overdue for an appointment in such a way that it will:
- Save time for your staff
- Help to fill appointments
- Increase your revenue
- Improve the patient experience
What are the steps to an effective, easy-to-manage recare program?
Step #1: Identify needed recare—Your automated system should help identify those patients overdue for regular appointments, unfinished treatment, or missed appointments. Remember that every patient is unique. The right follow-up for one patient may not for work for another. Each patient should be considered as an individual based on their care plan. In addition, these times can vary greatly by specialty.
As a general rule of thumb, however, most patients should be contacted at these intervals:
- Regular checkup: Once per year
- Disease treatment: When a patient is diagnosed with a specific condition, your PRM should allow you to trigger recare reminders depending on that condition.
- Preventative Screening: Set up recare reminders based on need for preventative screening such as immunizations, mammograms, colonoscopies, blood sugar testing, etc
- Regular intervals: Many practices find success reaching out at specific touchpoints. For example: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, 4th of July, Back to School, and Thanksgiving.
Quick Tip: You may want to consider setting a throttle to control how many messages are going out per day so as not to overload your schedule (you won’t want to send more than 50 messages per day.)
Step #2: Track and overcome objections—When a patient does not follow up with treatment the way they should, you need to assess just what is going on behind the scenes. Perhaps they lost their insurance and need financing options. They could have a crazy schedule and can’t figure out a time that would work for them. They may not have transportation. Maybe it is simply fear.
Sending out a survey is a quick and easy way to learn why patients are inactive, what they need, and what you can do to help them better manage their health. Include in your recare messages an understanding of these challenges as well as a solution. For example, if it is the high cost that scares them off, let them know about financing options like Care Credit. It can make a huge difference in the success of your recare program.
To read the rest of this free guide, you can download it now.