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Expert Q+A: how top providers are using digital patient recruitment tools

November 9, 2021 by Experian Health

Mass relocations during the pandemic caused seismic shifts in healthcare markets. With millions of Americans moving and reshuffling to be closer to family or take advantage of remote working opportunities, healthcare providers have extra work on their hands to ensure their patient base holds steady. Some attrition is inevitable; however, as more patients relocate, providers may see more patient churn than usual. Unfortunately, this means more dollars in lost revenue. On top of this, consumers have changing expectations and more choices when it comes to healthcare, which means even more patients coming and going. Providers must find new ways to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market for patient recruitment and retention.

In June 2021, our State of Patient Access 2.0 survey revealed that attracting and retaining patients was a top revenue recovery strategy for providers hoping to make up for the shortfall caused by the pandemic. An Interview with the Expert, featuring Mindy Pankoke, Sr. Product Manager of Patient Identity and Care Management at Experian Health, sheds some light on the opportunities that lie ahead for patient recruitment and retention. Pankoke also explains how consumer data can help providers deliver an outstanding patient engagement experience.

Watch the interview below:

How have patient recruitment and retention been affected by the pandemic?

The pandemic changed how patients live and work. Many have relocated, while others have overhauled their lifestyles to find a better work-life balance and/or to pay closer attention to their health. Pankoke explains that these changes not only push patient recruitment up the priority list, but also require providers to take a bird’s eye view of their evolving markets in order to develop a better understanding of who their patients are.

She says, “Waves of employment, unemployment and remote working mean patients’ locations and lifestyles have changed. As the dust settles, we’re starting to see how the market has shifted. It continues to be highly competitive, with multiple health systems fighting for the same patient base, so it’s important to know who’s new to your market, who might have moved out, and how COVID-19 may have impacted their lives. You can use that data to better engage with them and offer the most relevant communications.”

How can data help providers with patient recruitment and retention?

Understanding patients’ needs and preferences call for fresh and accurate consumer data. But which specific data points are most useful when it comes to patient engagement and recruitment?

Pankoke suggests three areas to focus on: “Accurate contact information will make or break your patient recruitment strategy. Providers need to be able to reach the patient they’re intending to contact. Then, you can enhance demographic data by making sure you’re speaking to patients in their preferred language. Finally, marketing data can offer non-clinical insights about patients’ lifestyles so you can reach out and engage them more effectively.”

Pankoke says it’s important to consider how the content and format of marketing communications might resonate with different patients. For example, a 50-year-old diabetic patient who has a job and lives in a multi-generational household will have a completely different lifestyle to that of a 50-year-old diabetic patient who is retired and lives alone. Consumer data can help providers see the full picture of a patient’s life, so they can offer the most helpful, sensitive and personalized information.

Using data to “meet patients where they are”

One way to stand out from the competition is to demonstrate an understanding of what patients need right now. Data on the social determinants of health (SDOH) can be used to enrich patient records, by providing insights into the non-clinical aspects of care and lifestyle factors that can affect a patient’s access to services. This is especially important given that socially and economically vulnerable groups were among those hardest hit by the pandemic. In our survey, 23% of providers said they were planning to or already implementing SDOH programs, up from 13% six months earlier. With SDOH data at their fingertips, providers can tailor their communications, so patients are supported to access the services they need at that moment in time.

Reliable consumer data also helps providers communicate that information in the most appropriate way, to improve engagement, outreach and access. Pankoke suggests that some patients may prefer to learn about healthcare services through TV advertising, while others may prefer a leaflet or brochure through their door. Knowing your patients’ level of comfort with technology also means you can make better decisions about who to direct to patient portals or telehealth services.

Get in front of patients before they start looking

In today’s consumer-driven and competitive healthcare market, every touchpoint matters. Communications that are consistent, relevant and personalized are key to attracting and retaining patients. With the right data and digital tools, providers can anticipate patients’ needs, address obstacles and reach out to help patients stay on track with their healthcare journey. They can offer convenient and flexible options to register, schedule and pay for services – using a format that best suits each patient.

In some cases, this means knowing what the patient needs before the patient knows it themselves. It’s a lot easier to get in front of patients with useful healthcare information before they start looking. Consumer data gives providers a head start so they can integrate SDOH and other patient information in patient recruitment and retention strategies that are proactive, rather than reactive.

Watch the full interview with Mindy and download our State of Patient Access Survey 2.0, to find out how your healthcare organization can incorporate consumer data to communicate the right message in the right format to attract and retain loyal consumers.

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