Keeping patients loyal is crucial. However, patient confidence in provider’s abilities and how the staff cares for them is critical to patient retention.
The two important indicators of patient loyalty to a medical practice are patient confidence in the provider along with quality of care coordination. These factors surpass other issues such as wait times, practice facilities and ease of access as revealed in a recent study by healthcare consulting firm Press Ganey.
The study finds that growing amount of patient access to provider quality data could see more patients switching physicians. This will certainly be fuelled by the Affordable Care Act as patients will have more physician options to choose from.
Press Ganey highlighted five risk factors which could lead to patients switching providers. It developed an algorithm that can be used to benchmark the risk of losing patients and suggested steps practices could take to mitigate the risks.
The identified risk factors include:
- Confidence in provider
- Care coordination
- Provider concern about patient queries
Press Ganey developed a Decision Tree Analysis in which patients with high or low degrees of risks for leaving their physicians were divided into groups. Patients with a 1.9% risk of changing practices had “high confidence” in their providers while those with a 75% risk had “low confidence”.
Patients who expressed high confidence in their providers and felt good care coordination had a 1% risk of leaving the practice while those who thought care coordination was not good, had an 11% risk of switching providers. Patients who lacked confidence in their providers but believed the practice was good at care coordination were at a 28% risk while those patients who did not have confidence in their providers and did not like care coordination had a 90% risk of switching practices. The same risk factor methodology was applied to the other three factors determining patient loyalty as well.
“This analysis suggests that coordination of care and demonstrating concern for the worries of patients represent key opportunities for physicians and their associated medical practices to improve patient care, while also enhancing patient loyalty and supporting financial viability,” the Press Ganey researchers say.