Nobody likes a break up. Although every relationship starts with the hope of long-term happiness, unfortunately for many different reasons, professional and personal break ups are common. The relationship between a doctor and a patient is no different.
Sometimes despite years of seeing a doctor on a regular basis, patients decide to part ways with their primary care physician or specialist. This problem of “patient leakage” is something that is important for all practices to monitor.
Our recent Match Made in Medicine study gleaned some insights into the top reasons patients decide to stop seeing a doctor. Take a look at our key takeaways below to better understand why patients may “break up” with a doctor and tips to ultimately improve your patient retention rate.
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Lack of Trust
As to be expected with this type of relationship, having trust in a doctor is one of the most important requirements to maintain a relationship, and patients say that a lack of trust is a major deal-breaker in health. Seven in ten Americans say they would stop seeing a doctor (71%) they didn’t trust.
Nearly two in three (63%) Americans say that poor communication skills in a doctor would make them reconsider the relationship. More specifically, patients revealed that when they met a doctor for the first time, they valued the doctor asking good questions (79%) and finding them to be a good listener (74%). Ask good questions, listen carefully and your doctor-patient relationship could be a long one.
Don’t leave your patients sitting on the practice chairs reading last month’s lifestyle magazines or next time they may be in another practice’s waiting room. Over half (56%) of Americans say that they would ditch a doctor who always showed up late. For years it was normal, even expected, to sit around and wait for a medical appointment to begin. Nowadays, expectations have changed. A delayed appointment reflects poorly on the efficiency of the whole practice and can lead to patients not wanting to come back.
Awkward Bedside Manner
Fifty-five percent of Americans say that if a doctor makes them feel uncomfortable or awkward they will seek their healthcare needs elsewhere. Eight out of ten (79%) of Americans want their doctors to be easy to talk to. Everyone wants to feel comfortable in a relationship, so making your patients feel at ease will only help this relationship last.
Over half (55%) of patients say that a doctor who does not make time to see them may not be their doctor for long. People are busy and appointments can be a struggle to schedule, so if the patient finds that when they do get into the office, the doctor is rushed or distracted, their next appointment will be made in a competing practice.
Negative Patient Reviews
These days reading the reviews and opinions of others takes just a few taps on your phone. Sites like Zocdoc show patients how a doctor is rated for things like bedside manner and wait time by other verified patients. While not as important as communication and punctuality, nearly one third (32%) of Americans said that the fact that other patients do not like a doctor could lead to them ending the relationship.
In the new world of doctor-patient relationships, where there is so much choice and accessibility, it is easier than ever for a patient to decide to pull the plug on their doctor. Keeping in mind these key reasons why a patient may decide to look elsewhere can help build a practice with low patient leakage and many happy, long doctor-patient relationships.