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5 Tips For Patient Follow-Up

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Bobbie Byrd

One visit to a healthcare professional can remedy many patient problems, but some conditions may require ongoing treatments. This means timely follow-up care is vital for maintaining positive outcomes, fostering reliable relationships and gaining operational efficiencies. Keep reading to learn 5 tips for effective patient follow-up as well as the importance of ongoing and consistent patient communication efforts. 

Importance Of Patient Follow-Up

Improved Clinical Performance

  • Regular follow-ups keep plans of care on track and influence better patient outcomes.
  • Staying in touch gives patients the resources and insights they need to take charge of their own health as well as follow protocols for any conditions that require routine management. 
  • Timely and effective follow-up care can also help reduce hospital readmissions for patients who have experienced a serious illness or injury. 
  • After discharge, compliance with treatment plans and regular checkups can help catch potential complications early on, allowing for intervention before a problem develops.

Reduction In No-Shows

On average, patient no-shows can run between five to ten percent of scheduled appointments. Not only are no shows an expensive burden for your practice, but missed appointments often mean that patients don't get the care they need to maintain good health. When you communicate regularly with patients, they'll be more inclined to remember your practice and attend scheduled visits.

Seeing It Through

People with severe or chronic illnesses or injuries need long-term care to recover and achieve the best quality of life possible. However, patients may find their recovery stagnated instead of moving forward when they miss follow-up appointments or don't follow through with prescribed treatment plans. In these cases, timely follow-up is imperative in order to proactively improve the chances of positive patient outcomes and minimize safety concerns or liability issues. 

Reinforce Care Instructions 

Often, patients receive care instructions from providers during in-person or virtual appointments, but will need to take steps independently without supervision from a healthcare professional. Even if a patient feels confident that they know what to do immediately after leaving a visit, questions can still arise. That's why following up with them can reinforce patient education, improve understanding and promote follow-through. 

Secured Actionable Feedback

It's essential to your practice that you collect feedback regularly and use this insight to make continuous improvements. By soliciting patient feedback through engagement campaigns such as net promoter scores (NPS) or therapy value (TV) surveys, you can boost client retention as well as make educated business decisions that drive growth and value. 

5 Tips For Patient Follow-Up

Healthcare providers have multiple options for improving the efficiency of patient follow-up. Here are five steps you can implement to improve communications and humanize healthcare experiences.

  1. Provider Authenticity

It takes more than clinical efficiencies and practice management for a patient's experience to be truly satisfactory. What may be missing is a human connection between the patient and healthcare provider. 

  • Patients need to feel supported by their providers and know that they have their best interests at heart.
  • Whether it be individualized exercises or a routine therapy program, providers should be empathetic toward what each patient is going through in their recovery - even post discharge. 
  • When providers connect with a patient on an emotional level, it supports thriving social interactions and provides a sense of trust, safety as well as a feeling of belonging.
  1. Automation

The use of automated follow-up technology can assist patients in successfully completing their plans of care. In fact, facilitating automated appointment reminders improves attendance rates and decreases missed visits, which all helps patients meet their goals while also improving your bottom line. What's more, you can use electronic notification alerts to reinforce discharge instructions and distribute educational materials regarding a patient's plan of care.

  1. Service Recovery

Healthcare providers do everything they can to ensure patients have a satisfactory experience, but mistakes occasionally happen. Service recovery is the process providers abide by to make things right after patients have had a less than optimal experience. By incorporating service recovery plans into patient follow-up communication, you can turn a potentially negative situation into a positive one.

  1. Accommodation Of Patient Accessibility

A survey done by the Pew Research Center found that 7% of U.S. adults don't use the internet, which translates to almost 23 million people, most of who are over age 65. Unfortunately, you can't reach these patients via email, newsletter, patient portals or possibly even text, so the remedy here is to go old school: reach out in writing. Lack of internet use is not a valid excuse for patient follow-up falling through the cracks.

  1. Patient Outcomes

Patient surveys are one of the best ways to collect data regarding practice performance and patient satisfaction. By collecting outcome data, you can analyze the effectiveness of the services your practice provides, while also stimulating collaborative care and leveraging valuable insights to make more informed business decisions. 

Successful treatment improves patients' health and wellbeing, but some patients may need reminders or require forms of follow-up to stay motivated. Take the first step to setting up effective methods of patient engagement, by learning more about Connect and our flexible clinical documentation.

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