Think back to that disappearing healthcare patient who’s been tickling the back of your brain. You know the one – we all have them. The patient who you thought was doing well…getting better…seemed happy…and then one day, just disappeared from your private healthcare practice. Perhaps they were a relatively new patient, or maybe they’d been part of your practice for years. Why did they leave? Did they move away? Were you so successful in your treatment they didn’t need you anymore? Maybe they got laid off and now can’t afford your services.
There are dozens of reasons why a patient may leave your healthcare practice that have nothing to do with you or the quality of your services. But what if they’re not happy with you? Prior to an unsatisfied patient leaving your practice, they may stick around for a while…waiting to see if the issue corrects on its own. When you have a patient who doesn’t complain, do you assume they’re completely happy with the care and services you’ve provided? How do you know for sure?
When a patient disappears from your healthcare practice, how do you respond? Do you just continue on your merry way or do you reach out and try to determine why they left your practice? Obviously you don’t want to pester people…or spend all of your time following up on previous patients. But having a simple and efficient process in place to find out why patients have left your healthcare practice can be invaluable.
Finally, recent research reveals that for every complaint expressed by a customer, there can be up to 25 additional unregistered complaints1. In terms of your independent healthcare practice, this means that for every patient who tells you they’re unsatisfied with your care or services, there are up to 25 more who say nothing. That’s right…they just walk out your door and never come back. And while they may say nothing to your face, what are they saying about you to their friends, relatives, and acquaintances?
Do you have a process in place to touch base with patients who’ve disappeared from your practice? If so, share it with us in the comments section. Together we can help each other solve the mystery of the disappearing patient!
For more information on building community connections, I encourage you to read my new book Community Connections! Relationship Marketing for Healthcare Professionals. If you want more valuable information about how to Connect with YOUR Community, you can find FREE healthcare practice marketing content, PowerPoint Presentation Jumpstart Kits, workbooks, blog articles, and my FREE “Practice Marketing Planner” Now!
1Wysocki, AF, Kepner, KW, Glasser, MW. Customer Complaints and Types of Customers. University of Florida IFAS Extension. 2012; http://edis.ifas.efl.edu/hr005. Accessed September 2, 2014.
Kelley Pendleton saysSeptember 9, 2014 at 1:38 pm
How many of you survey past patients to see why they left?