Treatment doesn’t stop when patients’ primary health concerns have been addressed. From post-surgery outpatient therapy to post-injury optimization for sports performance, patients are best served by completing the entirety of their plans of care (POCs) to improve long-term outcomes.
The challenge? Patient drop-off.
Recent study data found that 28.55% of elderly patients attending tertiary care therapy dropped out before their POC was complete.1 The result of this drop-off is sub-optimal for both patients and practices: Patients may struggle to reach recovery goals, while practices may face challenges with both budgets and bottom lines.
While there’s no way to guarantee that patients will stay the course, it’s possible to increase the likelihood of POC success. Here are four ways providers can reduce patient drop-off and improve overall outcomes.
1. Keep patients in the loop with regular reminders
One of the simplest ways to keep patients coming back for rehab care is by reminding them about appointments.
While the success of therapy outcomes largely depends on patient visits, patients often have competing life priorities which can take precedence over treatment visits. To help keep patients coming back, keep them in the loop with regular reminders about upcoming appointments.
Worth noting? Wherever possible, opt for reminders such as text or email. A recent survey found that 70% of patients say they’re more likely to choose a healthcare provider that offers digital follow-up reminders.2
2. Talk to patients about their POC before beginning treatment
If patients are disengaged with their treatment provider or don’t feel their treatment plans meet their needs, they’re twice as likely to delay medical care, and three times as likely to have unmet medical concerns.3
As a result, it’s critical for providers to connect with patients about their POCs before beginning treatment, then check in on patients’ perspectives and concerns about progression during and between treatments.
In practice, this means giving rehab providers in clinics, long term care, and hospital outpatient and inpatient acute settings streamlined access to patient information so they can understand patient concerns and design custom care plans.
3. Set realistic milestones and overall goals
Creating realistic metrics for success can also help patients stay the course. Here’s why:
If POCs are too vague in their language or over-promise potential benefits, patients have no way to accurately measure their progress.
By using a combination of healthcare data analytics, outcome measures, and considerations related to patients’ personal experiences, it’s possible for providers to establish realistic goals and milestones that keep patients coming back.
4. Help patients celebrate successes – both big and small
When patients see success, they often want to share it with both providers and a larger social audience.
By providing tools that allow patients to share their stories online or post positive reviews of their experiences, providers gain a double benefit: patients are more motivated to follow their POCs, and patient success stories can encourage other patients in similar programs to stay on track.
Best bet? Make it as easy as possible for patients to share their stories.
Not only do self-service solutions increase the likelihood that patients with celebrate success online, but research suggests this approach can save the healthcare industry between $24 and $48 billion annually in administrative costs.4
Staying the course is critical for POCs to show optimal results. Increase the chances of successful outcomes with patient reminders, clear communication, realistic milestones, and celebrated successes.
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1 National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), “Dropout rates and factors associated with dropout from treatment among elderly patients attending the outpatient services of a tertiary care hospital,” March 2018.
2 Accenture, “Today’s consumers reveal the future of healthcare,” February 12, 2019.
3 Health Affairs, “What The Evidence Shows About Patient Activation: Better Health Outcomes And Care Experiences; Fewer Data On Costs,” February 2013.
4 McKinsey, “How tech-enabled consumers are reordering the healthcare landscape,” November 23, 2016.