To succeed in today’s value-based industry, physician practices must provide coordinated, high-quality care. Recent research has shown that every dollar invested in Patient Centered Primary Care saves $13 in downstream costs. These savings enable Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) to lower healthcare spending dollars, simply by caring for their patients.1
Yet with ever-increasing options available for patient care, patients frequently turn to specialists or urgent care facilities, rather than making appointments with their PCP. As patients hunt for convenient, low-cost care solutions, PCPs often struggle to hold on to loyal customers.
According to the Advisory Board’s Primary Care Physician Consumer Loyalty Survey, nearly half of respondents say they may not keep the same PCP next year.2 To prevent patient leakage, practices should implement lower-cost, but highly useful investments that provide ease and flexibility for patients.
Consider implementing one or more high-ROI investments to improve your practice workflow and keep your patients from slipping away.
Strategic Investments for PCPs
1. Extend Office Hours
What’s the main reason patients seek alternative forms of care? Lack of access to their PCP.
Consider scheduling weekend office hours to keep patients from visiting an urgent care center or ER when your office is closed. You can also implement extended weekday hours to increase flexibility for working professionals who may not be able to make daytime appointments.
2. Offer Same-Day or Next-Day Appointments
When patients are sick, the last thing they want to hear is, “We can get you in next week.” To give your patients greater access to their PCP, set scheduling priorities that get patients through the door within 24–48 hours. Having daily open appointments also enables your practice to provide immediate care for walk-ins.
Additionally, implementing an online scheduling software is a great way to relieve administrative duties for your staff, while making scheduling appointments faster for your patients.
3. Guarantee Longer Visits
After waiting in the lobby and exam room for their doctor, many patients dislike the rushed, 10-minute conversation with their physician. PCPs are under constant strain and overbooked with patient appointments, but a great way to build patient loyalty is to guarantee more face time with providers. Giving patients a full 20 minutes of one-on-one time will build a stronger patient-physician relationships, increase patient satisfaction, and address a leading cause of physician burnout, since providers feel they don’t get to spend enough time with their patients.
4. Collaborate with Specialists
To make life simpler for patients, PCPs often try to refer patients to co-located specialists. Unfortunately, traditional referrals within a health complex are mainly beneficial for patients because of their convenience.3 Instead, PCPs should focus on developing integrated care efforts with specialists who have demonstrated high quality/high value care.
Work with behavioral health specialists, cardiologists, dermatologists, and others to build systems for collaborative and integrated care efforts. Together you can also leverage alternate payment models that support these integrated services.
5. Provide Price Transparency
As healthcare costs continue to rise, patients are increasingly likely to “price check” services at various providers. To help your patients save, give referrals to high-quality/high value specialists—but don’t overlook the chance to attract new patients with transparent prices. Start by determining accurate pricing for your services, and then make your price data available to current and prospective patients.
6. Nurture Current Patients
Though it may seem obvious, one of the best strategies for retaining and attracting patients is to make sure your current patients are happy with their service and treatment. Never forget that your patients are a critical referral network, and you don’t want to neglect your current customers as you strive to gain more.
Implement routine patient satisfaction surveys to monitor your patients’ opinions. Then use their feedback to discover even better methods of providing value for your patients.