Follow-up is a critical part of the treatment journey for the patient and provider. When patients miss appointments or don’t complete their care plan, it can impact their health and potentially create liability for the physician. Recently, Mag Mutual suggested ways providers can improve patient follow-up rates.
A provider should make an effort to contact patients when they miss an appointment or test. They may reschedule. You may also learn why they skipped the follow-up. The attempt to make contact and the patient’s explanation should be documented.
Remind the patient
It’s a fact that patients forget their appointments. Everybody is busy. As a provider, you should consider implementing reminder calls. If your staff doesn’t have time for this, an automated system may be a good investment. The time and expense can be more than offset if you can prompt patients with a timely reminder.
Are you currently tracking patients scheduled for follow-ups? Whether it’s electronic or an old-fashioned paper method, a provider should use a reminder system to ensure you are alerted when a patient is due for a follow-up and when. It’s a good idea to document all attempts to contact the patient and when the patient completes the follow-up.
Patients need to understand that missing appointments could impact their health. Communicate how following up increases the likelihood that the treatment plan is successful. No plan is foolproof. Follow-ups give providers the opportunity to assess the effectiveness of the course of treatment and make needed changes. As a provider, you understand this. Make sure your patients do, too.
Manage wait times
Wait times are always a significant pain point for patients. There may not be much you can do to reduce wait times, but you can improve communication. Make the patient aware if they will be waiting much longer than expected and offer to let them reschedule. Building patient satisfaction can have a direct impact on follow-rate rates.
Yes, it is the patient’s responsibility to show up for appointments, tests, or procedures. However, the risk to the provider is substantial if they don’t make an effort to contact patients who miss follow-ups. Medical liability experts warn that missed appointments and lapses in treatment constitute a grave risk of liability for providers.
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