Repositioning your practice to offer value-based care will have a positive impact on your practice and your bottom line, but more importantly, your patients’ health. The goal of delivering quality care at a lower cost is a trending shift that’s critical to providing value-based care and improving health outcomes.
Creating this change within your practice and across the industry begins with a commitment to being proactive in ways that will be impactful to facilitating this transition. The good news is, as you begin to implement changes, patient retention will improve leading to greater success in new patient acquisition through referrals from those happy patients.
Your patients have options, and are actively searching for a provider who will deliver high quality care at an affordable price. It all starts with a patient’s first experience and interaction with you and your staff. That being said, your patient relationships begin before your patients even set foot in your office. Embracing a value-based care approach is key to providing the experience your patients expect and the loyal patient base you are striving for.
According to the Harvard Business Review, transitioning to value based care is “the strategy that will fix health care.” To support you in making this transition, here is a checklist of actions you need to be taking and things to be mindful of:
How visible (online) and accessible (location) is your practice?
In today’s digital world, consumers are turning to health care marketplaces to shop for providers, services, and insurers. In doing so, they want online healthcare shopping to be as easy as other shopping experiences, but almost half are not happy with their overall healthcare customer experiences. When prospective patients are searching online for a provider in your area, where does your practice rank in the listings? Statistics show when they are making a decision, patients rely heavily on online reviews.
Healthgrades is the leading online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals. Over one million people a day rely upon Healthgrades to research, compare, and connect with dentists, eye care professionals, physicians, and other healthcare providers. Not only does Healthgrades provide the information consumers need to make more informed decisions, physicians and healthcare professionals rely on Healthgrades to accurately represent their practice online, make them more relevant and discoverable, and to connect them with current and future patients.
How up-to-date are you?
How much is your practice taking advantage of the technology available in the healthcare industry? If you currently have your practice management software integrated with a patient relationship management platform, then you understand the impact it has not only on office efficiency, but your patients’ satisfaction and overall health as you keep them on track with their regular care appointments.
How accessible are you?
If your patients aren’t able to reach you with a phone call, how many other options do they have for getting a hold of you to ask a question, schedule an appointment, update their personal or insurance information, or check on lab results? Patient portal technology provides patients 24/7 convenient access to accomplish all of these. The greater access your patients have to their personal health records, on demand patient education, and your practice staff, the more encouraged and engaged they are likely to be resulting in healthier outcomes.
How often do you ask?
Are you utilizing patient surveys to get feedback on the quality of care you are providing your patients, how satisfied they are, and changes they would like to see made to improve upon their patient experience? If not, you should be. Patients today desire to be more in control than ever before and appreciate knowing their opinion matters. Ask, listen, and then implement so your patients know you value their feedback and their business.
How well do you listen?
Although your patients respect the knowledge you have and want to know how to get and stay healthy, it is also very important to them that you know how they feel, what their challenges are, be it physical, emotional or mental, what their health goals are, and that you are someone they can trust with anything they share with you. Genuinely listen, empathize or sympathize with them to establish or deepen your connection to them. Trust and connection breed loyalty.
How often are you educating your patients?
The key to being a successful value-based care practice is keeping your patients in good health and doing all you can to prevent repeat visits for the same health issues. Getting a patient to engage in their health when they aren’t feeling well isn’t difficult. Keeping them engaged and proactive in between visits, making sure they stay in good health, is another story.
Establishing and maintaining a trusted connection with your patients in between their visits makes your patients feel important and means they will be more likely to implement any information you may provide them with pertaining to their health. In addition, they will feel more comfortable communicating more often with you about health concerns that may arise, which means staying on top of issues before they get worse.
Target your patient education so your patients feel like you know who they are and what they need to know, specifically related to their health, in order that they stay in optimum health. Helping your patients come up with a personal, strategic long-term plan will ideally not only keep your patients healthy, but will encourage them to adopt healthier habits for healthier outcomes.
(Image by UnitedHealthCare)
How automated is your patient communication?
If you are still picking up the phone and mailing postcards to schedule and remind patients of their appointments, and frantically calling your waitlist to fill your cancelled appointments, you are working unnecessarily harder than you need to and are likely not having much success connecting with your patients. Times have changed, and communication has moved to a whole new level. Therefore, your communication strategies should, too. If you are one of those practices still saying that you haven’t made the transition to text or email patient communication because you think it’s less personal, you may want to evaluate that sooner rather than later.
Remaining in this mindset for too long will cost you maximum practice efficiency, even greater practice dollars, and will continue to encourage the widening gap in the patient/provider relationship. Adopting technology that allows you the convenience and efficiency of automated appointment reminders, filling last minute openings within minutes without picking up the phone, significantly reducing your number of no-shows, and more successfully keeping patients on track with their health, will leave you wondering why you waited so long to make the transition. After all, your practice deserves it and your patients demand it.
From appointment reminders to ongoing patient education throughout the continuum of care, consistent two-way communication supports a connected patient-provider relationship and the value-based care you aim to provide. It builds trust and loyalty and provides the most positive, long-term patient experience possible.
Advancements in healthcare technology have greatly improved patients’ access to staff support and their personal health information. It is critical to keep up with the communication trends and demands today if you want to successfully connect with your patients, see significant improvements in patient satisfaction, long-term health outcomes and highest level practice success. And it is absolutely necessary in order to make the transition to the value-based care approach that will soon be prevalent industry-wide.