The Importance of Patient Follow-Up

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The Importance of Service Recovery Cannot Be Overstated

If your healthcare organization subscribes to M3-Patient Experience®, you and your team have perhaps the most powerful service recovery tool available on the market today. It’s not just my opinion. One of our largest physician groups had this to say, just this week.

“The service recovery feature that MedicalGPS has developed as part of M3-Patient Experience allows our practice managers to reach out to our patients, in near-real time, immediately after the visit, whenever a service failure occurs. I have never seen, nor do I know of a system available on the market today that even comes close to M3-Patient Experience.”

In today’s consumer-driven healthcare environment, following-up with patients is not only critical to compliance and outcomes, it is becoming the key factor in building stronger, healthier patient relationships. When patients indicate that their expectations were not met, a quick follow-up phone call to the patient will increase the likelihood that the patient will remain loyal to the practice. Failure to do so will open the door for the patient to look elsewhere for their healthcare.

Failing to follow-up with patients can lead to significant legal dangers for medical practices and healthcare organizations, according to one American Medical News article.

As medical reimbursement is more closely tied to quality and outcomes, patient follow-up is essential and must not be overlooked.

Overlooking, or taking a casual attitude toward service recovery will cost medical practices and healthcare organizations significantly. The quote below from the Forbes article titled, “Why You Must Rethink Your Attitude To Service Recovery”, says it well.

“Things go wrong. Good companies make them right. Great companies go beyond that to making the people who were wronged feel better. The lifetime value of loyal customers is common knowledge.”

According to one study, as it relates to patients having been prescribed a new medication, touching base with patients after discharge reduces risk and improves safety:

  • 86% were aware that they had been prescribed new medications.
  • Fewer could identify the name (64%) or number (74%) of their new medications or their dosages (56%), the schedule to take them (68%), or the purpose of the prescription (64%).
  • Only 22% could name at least one adverse effect.
  • Only 11% could recall being told of any adverse effects.

Below are practical, best practices, that you may find beneficial.

Implement some or all of the techniques listed, if you haven’t already, to ensure effective follow-up happens at your physician practice:

  • Ensure staff is trained to handle test results and referrals and put protocols in place for any discrepancies.
  • Communicate test results and instruct patients to contact the office if they have not received them by a certain date.
  • Mail letters to patients who do not follow-up and cannot be reached by phone. File this documentation in the medical record.
  • Utilize the test-tracking capability through electronic health records.
  • Ensure all results of tests, consults and referrals were reviewed and put it in writing.
  • Document all advice in the patient’s record and include the patient’s level of understanding during the informed consent process.
  • Make sure a licensed health professional responds when a patient’s question is outside the scope of office staff knowledge.
  • Conduct a standard follow-up call within a specified time after each patient visit.
  • After the visit, send an email or text message with a secure feedback link, allowing patients to provide real-time input.
  • Send email or text reminders regarding the patients next appointment.
  • Create an email, newsletter, or BLOG including information on improving health and answering common health questions. Include any relevant medical office information or changes.
  • Have office staff contact new patients to see if they were pleased with their first appointment, answer any questions, and welcome the patient to the practice.

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