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Is It Time to Think about Patient Reactivation? Yes.

Posted by Lea Chatham on Oct 28, 2020 12:15:00 PM

I was just reading an article about organizations like Cleveland Clinic getting back to basics with reactivation. Taking the time to build a patient recall strategy is more than just a good idea—it’s a necessity for any organization that is looking for a way to optimize their schedule as they work to recover from the big losses of 2020. Even before COVID, for many organizations significant revenue was being lost every month due to missed recall appointments. Attracting new patients to fill those empty spots is more expensive and time consuming than filling them with appointments for existing patients. Studies show it costs five times more to attract a new patient than it does to keep an existing one.

Many health systems have a recall program in place, but it is too time-consuming or difficult to maintain to do the organization (or the patients) any good, especially with fewer staff members as a result of COVID. And now, recall is playing a role in value-based programs that require certain follow up or reduction of readmissions. With these five easy tips, you can create a recall program that keeps patients returning and helps stabilize revenue.

Use an automated system. Your staff shouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes a day on your recall
activities. Patient communication software will allow you to automate much of the
time-consuming and tedious task of recall. No more wasted time making phone calls that are never
answered or addressing postcards that are likely to end up in the trash. An automated system will
ensure every patient who is due to be seen is contacted with a recall message.

Identify needed recall. Your software will help you identify patients who are overdue for regular
appointments or have unfinished treatment. However, it’s important to remember that each patient
should be treated as an individual, and the same care plan may not be right for every patient.

Track and overcome objections. When a patient doesn’t follow up with their prescribed treatment, you need to
take the time to uncover what is happening behind the scenes. Maybe they lost their insurance, they have a busy
schedule with little free time, the treatment is more than they can afford, or they are just nervous. An MGMA study showed that 87 percent of patients are fearful about going to the doctor due to COVID. Sending a survey is a quick and easy way to learn why patients haven’t returned, and how you can help them better manage their health.

Contact patients with purpose. Recall messages should be focused on your concern for the patients’ well-being, not on your desire for more revenue. This will be more likely to motivate them to make an appointment. Make sure your communication software gives you the ability to customize your messages. Personalized communication makes patients feel more significant and can go a long way in improving the patient experience as well as your retention rate.

Recall through ongoing education. Newsletters and similar types of group messages have been proven to be an effective way to build stronger patient relationships and increase loyalty. If you’re not sending patient education, you are overlooking a valuable tool to reconnect with patients. Consider the types of information your patients will be interested in reading to involve them in their own healthcare. Patients are more likely to follow-up on their treatment plans if they receive encouragement and coaching between visits. The best way to do this is through ongoing education. It's also the best way to alleviate fears about safety during COVID.

Developing a successful recall program is one of the most important systems you can organize in your facility for long term success. To learn about more strategies to increase appointments and optimize your schedule, download the guide, An Expert Guide to Scheduling More Appointments.

Lea Chatham

Written by Lea Chatham

Lea Chatham is the Director of Content Marketing at Solutionreach and the editor of the SR Health blog. She develops educational resources to help healthcare organizations improve patient engagement. Her work has been published in many leading journals including Physicians Practice and Medical Economics and she has presented webinars for industry groups like MGMA.

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