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How Doctors, Practices & Healthcare Systems Lose More of Their Most Important Patients Everyday

LOST REFERRALS = LOST REVENUE:  Series (1 of 5)

 

This series of five articles analyzes the growing increase of Lost Referrals (Leakage) that takes place when patients research their doctors online.  Trending along these lines is discussed and a solution is offered on how healthcare providers can reverse this trend and start booking appointments using personal professional Profile-Sites.

 

THE PROBLEM OF LOST REFERRALS

By some estimates, as many as one-third of all patients never follow through on their referrals.  Sometimes patients decide on their own that they don’t need to see the referred doctor.  In other cases, out-of-pocket costs of high deductibles and co-payments prevent patients from scheduling appointments, especially if a series of clinical visits are necessary.

But another factor has started to take hold here – one that every provider and practice manager can mitigate against:  Losing referred patients to competing providers via the web.

More than 75% of all patients research their healthcare providers, especially when they first receive their name as a referral.  Often before a patient has even stepped into the elevator after an appointment, or gets to their car in the parking lot, the patient has already used their cell phone to ‘Google’ their referral.

Patients, especially younger ones, are now savvy healthcare consumers.  Consolidation trends in healthcare have only caused many patients to view healthcare as just another commodity, one that can be easily researched, compared and price-shopped on the web.

The common denominator here is the search engine since it is the gateway to finding information on any healthcare provider.  A quick search of any doctor’s name will typically result in:

  • Local search results, often the result of Google My Business
  • A link to the provider’s profile in directories such as Healthgrades, Vitals, WebMD, US News & World Report, Wellness and others.
  • Yelp!, Angie’s List and other similar review sites.
  • The provider’s listing on their health or hospital network.
  • The provider’s page on their practice website, if they have one.
  • The provider’s paid pay-per-click advertisement, if they have one (VERY FEW have these).

The information about the provider within any of the above websites is often incomplete and inaccurate.  Some sites cross-reference information to singular databases, but the individual provider needs to monitor numerous websites for reviews, and take corrective action on erroneous data.

Reviewing online information is a time-consuming task, and the extent to which a provider can update and manage information about themselves is mostly limited. Many directory websites actively steer patients towards competing providers, which can even happen within the provider’s health or hospital system website.

There are ways to contain this problem.  So next we take a look to see what happens when a patient looks up their doctor on the web.  Later in this series we’ll discuss patient expectations and explore various website features that can keep patients from visiting competing providers and reduce lost referrals.

Interested in Learning More About How You Can Reduce Lost Referrals? Contact Dr. Leonardo Today.

For more information, contact Dr. Leonardo today. We can also be reached directly at 516-586-1300.