Posted by White Rhino

In a recent Webcast, we teamed up with Vicki J. Brown, former CMO for Joslin Diabetes Center, to discuss why patient leakage is a growing problem in healthcare and 4 marketing and service strategies for driving greater patient loyalty.

Below we've assembled answers to some of the best questions that came out of the event (watch the replay here).

How do I calculate my patient leakage rate?

Patient Leakage is defined as patients who utilize healthcare services outside of your organization or network. This includes those who change PCPs, go to a more convenient retail clinic or urgent care center, use on-demand telemedicine services with someone else, or see a specialist outside of your healthcare system. Every healthcare interaction should be included.

Most organizations calculate patient leakage by analyzing referral data: how many physicians refer patients to specialists outside of the health system? This "referral leakage," though significant, doesn't account for the overall patient leakage problem as it excludes patients who choose (on their own) to utilize other providers, urgent care centers or telehealth services.

What’s the typical (average) patient leakage / churn rate?

Patient leakage for a health system or practice typically ranges between 10 and 30%. If one includes missed appointments and no-shows in the patient leakage figure, then churn is quite high for non-MD appointments; e.g., 70% for Physical Therapy (PT).

What’s the ROI behind patient experience investments?

Keeping just 1% of patients can result in $1M in revenue / year, according to an oft-cited stat from Mission Point Health System. Another stat from ReferralMD estimates that the average physician leaks $780,000 a year.

What is the first step an organization should take to reverse the leakage trend?

The most important piece is to first acknowledge that patient leakage exists. Look at the data and see what kind of attrition you have so that you can evangelize the importance of addressing it. Once you do that, you'll also have the data to start mapping the moments that need fixing.

How many patient journeys do I need to map?

You can start with a single patient journey to get the ball rolling. There will be some common service gaps across your organization. But over time you will want to hone your strategy by developing journey maps for each speciality. One of the trust levers we discussed in the Webcast was about managing expectations. An orthopedics patient is going to have different expectations from a transplant patient. And you'll need to support each of their journey's with different content.

How and when should I get patient navigators involved?

When it comes to patient loyalty, it's critical to weave marketing into the operational fabric of the organization. It needs to be a cultural shift and change at the highest level of an organization or it will be very difficult to execute.

That means involving patient navigators as you build out your marketing strategy and making sure marketing has a seat at the table as new patient programs are established within the hospital. As a marketer, you don't want to get a call from the heart center after they've already launched a new cardiomyopathy program. We've seen much greater success when marketing strategies are considered in the beginning stages of the program development.

Further reading

Watch the full Webcast, It's not you it's me: 4 ways to stop patient leakage

Explore the costs of leakage and some of the top reasons patients leave, read the blog Patient leakage is costing you dearly by Vicki J. Brown

Read a story of patient keepage in our blog, How hospital websites can build trust before the first patient visit

Topics: Strategy, Experts, Best Practices, Healthcare