How to Build Patient Loyalty: 5 Tech-Based Tactics to Reduce Self-Discharge

Patients self-discharge if they don’t see value. These actions can drastically impact your bottom line. Thus, it’s imperative that from first communication to discharge and follow-up, that as an organization, you are accessible and helpful at all points in the continuum of care. It’s only through this full spectrum approach that you can optimize the patient loyalty. The effects of not doing so are astounding:

  • 5 times more expensive to attract a new patient than to keep an existing one1
  • Missing out on the reported 25% profit increase per 5% increase in patient retention rates1

Patient loyalty is an indication of how patients value your service. By retaining a patient, you increase the probability of both desired outcome and patient satisfaction. Plus, a patient’s positive experience will lead to increased word-of-mouth marketing.

The effects of patient loyalty are cascading. For example, say you complete 100 assessments per month and 40% self-discharge early; that’s 40 recurring patients you’ve lost. If you average $75/patient visit and each patient has six visits left, this leaves $18,000 on the table each month and $216,000 a year! And, do not forget, a self-discharging patient is less likely to re-engage with your clinic or be further involved with other services you provide. Their outcome is not ideal, your profitability suffers, and both of your time is likely wasted.

Perceived value makes or breaks the relationship. How do you change behavior and improve patient loyalty? Luckily, there are several technologies you can take advantage of to better your practice and create lifelong partnerships with patients.

How to Change Behavior and Create Value

You can increase patient retention by:

  • Reducing self-discharges from therapy
  • Reactivating past patients

These both boil down to strong relationships. Patients want providers they trust and who add value to their lives. They will be more likely to continue therapy if they perceive the benefits to outweigh the costs of each session.

Recent developments in technology can be a game-changer when it comes to patient loyalty. Here are five tactics to effectively leverage these innovations to improve patient loyalty:

1. Present a Refreshing and Trustworthy Attitude

Attitude is the first thing patients notice. Whether it is front office staff or a clinician’s attitude, all employees need to be able to exude kindness, honesty, and reliability. Together, these qualities should build patient loyalty through the establishment of trust and rapport.

Action Item: Assign professional development courses through an LMS to build both clinical and customer service skills.

2. Use Innovative and Interactive Therapies

Offering new, interesting, and innovative therapy modalities can help your organization stand out. Patients may get bored with the same therapy routines, so giving them something to get excited about may increase their engagement and loyalty.

Action Item: Use an integrated LMS and online continuing education solution in your organization to ensure your clinicians are up to date on the latest therapy techniques. Select a HEP provider with an expanding and customizable library to keep all patients continuously engaged. Patient mobile apps are also a great way to get patients excited about (and adhering to) a new treatment.

3. Provide Engaging Patient Education

Explaining the importance of the therapy to patients is seminal in demonstrating value. A review of 37 randomized controlled trials found that providing patients with targeted education materials led to greater satisfaction with care.2 Making sure patients are up to speed and have all their treatment information at their fingertips can ensure their complete buy-in to your organization.

Action Item: Use high-quality interactive patient education resources to reinforce how far a patient has come and to explain how physical therapy is helping. Mobile apps like MedBridge GO can put this information and their HEP in their pocket for incredible ease of access.

4. Get Patients Moving on Their Schedule

Factor in each patient’s specific situation and respect their schedule when building a treatment plan. Additionally, make sure to treat patients according to their biopsychosocial framework. In this way, you can streamline treatment plans per each patient’s abilities, needs, and social factors. They will see the effort and return the favor by coming back for future visits.

Action Item: Patient-centric mobile apps can serve as a dashboard for individualized care – providing patients on-demand information for their plans such as completion time, exercise reminders (and coaching), and patient education.

5. Nail the Follow-Up

A satisfied patient who remains with your organization for the long term generates new leads and positive word-of-mouth marketing for your services.

In order to cash in on this opportunity, keep engaged with a patient through treatment, and post-discharge. Send out newsletters or holiday greetings, or even provide a follow-up call to ensure a patient stays loyal. Going the extra step in personalizing the therapy experience for your patients can pay dividends for your organization.

Action Item: Leverage patient relationship management systems to organize and automate your outreach. Send a patient satisfaction survey throughout the continuum of care to identify your organization’s strengths and weaknesses.

Established Loyalty and Better Outcomes

You are driven to improve lives, but without patient loyalty strategies in place, your organization’s ROI may suffer due to an inflated patient churn rate. By leveraging available technology, not only can you expect a positive clinical outcome but the treatment should also yield a loyal patient who completes their full treatment plan, returns in the future, and refers your services.

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  1. Saleh, K. “Customer Acquisition Vs.Retention Costs – Statistics And Trends.” Invesp.
  2. Jeste DV, Dunn LB, Folsom DP, Zisook D., Multimedia educational aids for improving consumer knowledge about illness management and treatment decisions: a review of randomized controlled trials. J Psychiatr Res. 2008 Jan;42(1):1-21. Epub 2007 Feb 1.