From restaurants to retail stores, and airlines to event spaces, businesses across nearly every industry are facing financial challenges because of the sharp decline in consumer traffic COVID-19 is causing. Healthcare is no exception.
There’s no question that — outside of COVID patients — healthcare clinics and organizations are seeing far fewer patients than they normally see. In fact, data shared by The Commonwealth Fund shows that the cumulative deficit in patient visits between March 15-June 20 is nearly 40 percent.
84% of primary care physicians say their patients are independently delaying their visits.
Unfortunately, for clinics, fewer patient appointments and procedures means less revenue. To recoup losses, many healthcare teams are looking for ways to increase patients’ use of ambulatory care. One way to do this is to focus on areas of care that are notoriously underutilized — such as preventive care.
Healthcare providers know that routine preventive care is essential to maintain patients’ health. Plus, driving patients to regularly use preventive care can boost revenue. While there are barriers to overcome — such as patients’ fears and their lackadaisical use of preventive exams and screenings — engaging patients and encouraging them to book preventive care can pay off for clinics and their patients.
Here are three tips for helping patients see the benefits of using preventive care, and nudging them to schedule appointments:
The primary reason so many patients are cancelling appointments and delaying care is because they are concerned that there is a high risk of being exposed to COVID-19 in healthcare settings. In fact, Luma Research reveals that more than six months into the pandemic, 38% of patients say their health has been impacted because they are nervous about going to the doctor and being exposed to COVID-19.
This concern needs to be addressed in order to help patients feel comfortable enough to schedule appointments for preventive care.
38% of patients say their health has been impacted because they are nervous about going to the doctor and being exposed to COVID-19.
According to Luma Research, more than 1 in 10 patients (13%) say they have not received communication from their healthcare provider about processes or procedures that are in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus and ensure safety during in-person appointments.
Communicating to patients how you are working to mitigate risks is necessary to reassure patients that you are committed to delivering the care they need in the safest way possible. For example, you can send your patient population messages to let them know if you’ve:
• Enhanced sanitation processes
• Rearranged your waiting room to allow for social distancing
• Reserved special appointment times for older or high-risk patients
• Implemented zero contact check-in or a zero-contact waiting room
• Started offering curbside care for blood pressure checks, immunizations, cholesterol screenings, and more
• Adopted other safety measures
Knowing this information can help patients feel more at ease and willing to visit your clinic. However, there may still be some patients that are not convinced they are ready to resume care. But, overall, proactively working to explain the enhanced safety measures you’ve put into place makes it easier to get patients into your office for care.
Watch this short video to learn how Luma Health’s solution is helping clinics transition to Zero Contact Waiting Rooms
Cost has always been a deterrent that keeps patients from using preventive care. Unfortunately, many patients don’t realize that they can access preventive healthcare services at no cost to them, or know what services are covered. So, many patients miss out on preventive care they are eligible to receive because they are worried about incurring costs.
More than three in four adults in the U.S. (78%) can’t identify the essential health benefits insurers must cover under the Affordable Care Act. You can help your patients better understand preventive care coverage and benefits by sending messages to patients who are due for covered preventive services and explaining that care can be accessed with zero out-of-pocket expense.
More than three in four adults in the U.S. (78%) can’t identify the essential health benefits insurers must cover under the Affordable Care Act.
Engagement messages can be automated so they are quick and easy to send. For example, Luma Health’s solution can leverage EHR data and automatically message all patients within your population that are overdue for a mammogram or colorectal cancer screening.
Messages can be designed to let patients know that their doctor recommends they schedule a screening and that it is a covered preventive service. Include an option for patients to easily respond and schedule their appointment, and you have a simple way to help break down the cost barrier and encourage patients to use covered preventive care.
Even when there isn’t a global health pandemic happening, patients tend to put off scheduling preventive care. But if patients decide to wait out the pandemic before scheduling their next appointments, it won’t be good for their health or the financial health of clinics. Creating urgency is a time-tested marketing strategy that helps persuade consumers to take action — and the strategy can be applied to patients, too.
Sending engagement messages that encourage patients to take preventive steps now for better health in the future can nudge patients that would otherwise delay care to schedule appointments.
60% of healthcare providers believe that some of their patients will experience avoidable illnesses due to diverted or avoided care.
With COVID-19 expected to last months or even years into the future, providers agree and know that putting off care isn’t a good idea. In fact, 60 percent of healthcare providers believe that some of their patients will experience avoidable illnesses due to diverted or avoided care. Engaging patients with communications that underscore the benefits of and need for preventive care can help persuade patients to book preventive exams, tests, and screenings.
Engaging patients to promote and encourage the use of preventive care is one simple strategy healthcare teams can use to help recover revenue right now. For more ideas on how to overcome financial challenges related to COVID-19, check out this resource: Recovering Financially From COVID-19.
I’ll leave you with some eye-opening stats and an infographic to get you thinking about how a little education and strategic messaging can go a long way toward increasing preventive care compliance.
82% of patients say they would get preventive care screenings if they knew they could receive the care at no out-of-pocket cost, and many of these same patients say a nudge from their doctor would make all the difference — 41% say they would get these important screenings if thier doctor reached out to them and let them know there was no out-of-pocket costs and encouraged them to schedule an appointment.