Patient retention is a big deal, both from a financial and health standpoint.
Improving patient retention can result in serious profit increases for your practice, and a recent meta-analysis of 22 studies from nine different countries suggests that staying with the same doctor for longer is linked to a longer life.
According to an article about the analysis published in Health24, researchers found that 18 out of the 22 studies they examined showed that ” staying with the same doctor over time significantly reduced early deaths, compared with switching doctors.” And with the recent push for better preventative care and long term health initiatives, it only makes sense to increase your focus on improving patient retention.
Thankfully, many modern EHR solutions offer features that boost patient engagement, thereby increasing patient retention. Here are four ways you can make the most of your EHR to keep your existing patients longer.
1. Use Messaging and Secure Email to Improve Communication
Many people have questions they would like to ask their physicians in between visits, but a phone call usually connects you with a triage operator who can only take a message for a doctor to call them back. Email is also an option, but since email isn’t always secure, some people aren’t comfortable discussing personal medical information via this method.
Secure messaging EHR features solves these pain points. Messaging a doctor usually results in the faster response patients expect, and it also ensures that personal medical information is encrypted.
When patients are left hanging with questions, they feel as if their health concerns aren’t being made a priority. And when patients feel like they aren’t given proper attention from their doctor, they go somewhere else.
2. Streamline Operations Between Labs, Pharmacies, and More
No one likes calling a lab to get an update on a patient’s test only to discover that the lab either never received the order or they lost it. No one likes having to then break the bad news to the patient that their lab results will take a couple weeks longer to arrive than expected, either.
An EHR that allows you to order lab tests and prescriptions all from the same solution that stores patients’ health records can reduce or eliminate situations like this altogether. Some EHR solutions even allow patients to check on their own lab results through a self-service portal so that they aren’t waiting on the doctor’s office to give them a call back. These features keep practices more organized and efficient, translating to better care for patients and increased retention.
3. Roll Out Electronic Intake Forms to Reduce Unwanted Paperwork
In many ways, intake forms are a necessary evil. You need the information they request in order to provide an appropriate level of care for your patients (or even to just get them into the office), but these forms are often time-consuming and use lots of paper.
Instead of handing patients a clipboard and pen at the front desk with several pages worth of information to fill out before their first appointment, use your EHR to send them an email with a link to an electronic intake form. Electronic intake forms allow patients to provide their necessary information at their pace, and they can be completed from nearly anywhere.
Moving away from paper forms also speeds up the check-in process, so patients no longer have to arrive 20 minutes before their appointment. Patients love the ease this lends to their first appointment experience, and you will appreciate keeping your clinic running on time.
4. Reduce Patient Barriers to Their Own Medical Records
Patients have a right to access their medical records, but it can sometimes take them a while to receive records from a healthcare provider. This isn’t because physicians want to withhold information from the people they’re entrusted with caring for — it’s just that simple requests like this can sometimes take a backseat to more urgent matters in a physician’s busy day-to-day.
Self-service patient portals are a double-edged sword here. In the age of Amazon, patients are used to having the ability to log into their account to check their past order history or delivery status of a current order — why shouldn’t healthcare work the same?
For example, instead of having to go through the process of calling an optometrist’s office and requesting that a copy of their eyeglasses prescription be faxed or mailed to them, patients can log into a self-service portal and view the prescription instantly. This cuts out the time-consuming back-and-forth that can arise from such requests, making it as easy as clicking a button for a patient to obtain a copy of their medical records. The more physicians can smooth friction between a patient’s need and the solution, the better.
As healthcare providers begin to focus as much or more on retaining existing patients as they do on acquiring new ones, it only makes sense to examine your current tools to see how you can be making the most of your patient retention strategies. At the end of the day, patients want to rest assured that their physicians care about their well-being and make concentrated efforts to improve their health. In an area such as this where every measure counts, it only makes sense to use your EHR to its fullest extent for retaining patients.
There is no shortage of EHR solutions out there, but not every solution is a one-size-fits-all. Visit our EHR-EMR software category page, or contact us for a free, 5-minute consultation with one of our Tech Advisors.
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athenahealth, ranked #1 by Best in KLAS in 2023 for three of our top-performing product solutions, athenaOne Small Practice Ambulatory, athenaClinicals Ambulatory EMR, and athenaCollector Practice Management, connects care with cloud-based services and mobile tools for medical groups and health systems, helping providers thrive through change and focus on patient care.