COVID-19 has turned the perennial drip-drip-drip of patient leakage into a geyser of lost revenue. Across the country, elective and preventative care procedures have plummeted, as has the typical volume of non-COVID emergent care. The result? Hospitals and health systems are on pace to log unprecedented revenue losses in 2020.
The question of how to improve patient leakage has taken on even greater significance as value-based payment models have taken root and grown in hospitals and health systems around the U.S. In order to gain ground within this payment model, it is incumbent upon facilities to both enhance patient satisfaction – prompting those patients to return – and attract new patients. This is made all the more challenging when competitors are vying for patients, when there are gaps in service lines, and when there is a breakdown in communicating available services to area providers.
Patient leakage occurs at myriad points along the care continuum, but two drivers of patient leakage are retail urgent care and telemedicine. As greater numbers of patient-consumers opt out of traditional healthcare settings, there is an increased likelihood that those patients won’t find their way back. For example, if a patient is referred for specialty care but must take the initiative in scheduling that care, they can choose not to follow through or choose a competitor. Leakage also results when the facility can’t reach the patient following initial contact.
When asking how to improve patient leakage, it's important to remember that leakage can also be triggered by what in any other industry would be called “customer service.” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) measures patient experience using a variety of instruments that are under the umbrella of Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems. There are CAHPS surveys for patients who have used hospital, home health, emergency department, outpatient, and ambulatory surgery services, among others. The results from some of these surveys are used to calculate CMS reimbursements in value-based models. In other words, poor patient satisfaction can result in a clawback of reimbursements.
A patient’s ability to see the appropriate physician in a timely manner is critical to the a positive experience. Yet many hospitals and healthcare systems drop the ball when it comes to physician scheduling. Relying on low-tech solutions – like pen-and-paper or spreadsheets – to schedule staff or on-call physicians can quickly devolve into a morass of miscommunication. As a result, the wrong physician may be called, inaccurate schedules may be disseminated, and patient care may suffer.
In contrast, cloud-based software delivers physician call scheduling that is accurate, reliable, and accessible. Schedules can be updated in real time, and can be accessed via a mobile app or a web browser. MDsyncNET’s physician call scheduling software can help put the plug in patient leakage by ensuring that the right physician is scheduled – and called – within a timeframe that enhances both patient safety and patient satisfaction.