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Why Do Patients Leave? Pt. 1 The Patient Experience

Why Do Patients Leave?

The retention of patient is just as, or more important than finding new ones. Depending on what study you believe, it costs you 5 to 25 times more to find a new patient rather than keeping an existing one. In the healthcare industry, your patients are your customers, and keeping them happy is essential.

Consider research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company that shows an increased customer retention rate of as little as 5% increases profits by anywhere from 25-95%. The reasons for this are numerous, but perhaps chief among them is that 7% of customers leave if expectations are not met, and almost everyone who leaves your practice with an unfavorable opinion with share that experience with others.

Patients also share their experiences online by way of reviews and social media posts. If retaining customers is so important, it makes sense to look at why they leave.

It isn’t your Costs

A survey by Accenture shows that most of the time, cost is not a factor in a patient’s decision to leave your practice. In fact, the same survey shows patients value enhanced services and would pay more if they were offered.

  • Half would pay for more personal time with their doctor
  • Half would pay more for weekend or after hour appointments
  • 20% would Pay more to be able to see a doctor virtually
  • 20% would pay more for notifications about when preventative care or follow up is needed.

In fact, of the top ten reasons patients leave a practice, money and even bad customer service are the lowest two factors.

*Source: Accenture

It is the Customer Experience

Most of the reasons that patients leave a practice can be boiled down to one simple thing: they arrived with expectations that have not been met. Their visit did not go as they had pictured it would, because services or experiences they anticipated were not offered or simply did not happen.

Some common complaints include poor phone manners, a challenging or lengthy check in and check out process, and staff that is not properly trained. Patients also hate delays, especially when it feels like the staff is not being honest about the delay or the reason for it.

Making the patient wait in an exam room instead of the waiting room does not really help. In fact, it takes away from their overall experience, making them feel neglected. You have just moved them from one uncomfortable place to another.

Office appearance is also a factor. Patients want to be greeted in a friendly manner, have comfortable places to sit, and even current reading material and free wi-fi. However, all of these things are still not the number one reasons patients leave.

The primary reason that 2 of 3 patients leave a practice is that they expect to feel valued, but instead they feel like your practice takes them for granted. “Sixty seven percent of the people who don’t come back to our practices, don’t come back because of a feeling of indifference,” says the Review of Optometric Business. “In other words, two out of three patients that you lose are lost simply because they don’t think you care whether they come back.”

What to Do About It

Customers leave for a variety of reasons, and they may not be the ones you think they are. So how do you keep them from leaving?

  • Ask for and collect feedback. You can’t know what is going wrong and what customers love unless you ask them.
  • Use Pre-Screening technology to deal with both positive and negative reviews appropriately
  • Communicate: Let customers know they are being heard by responding to what they say.
  • Demonstrate that you are listening by making changes. Your actions speak much louder than your words, so let customers see you care by fixing issues and continuing to do what works.

In order to retain the patients you have, you must be proactive. Show them you care, and they will become patients for life. Fail to do this one simple thing, and many of them will leave quietly, and you may have no idea why.



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