Hospitals, Patient Engagement

New report shows that preventing patient leakage could boost hospital revenue by 17%

ABOUT Healthcare released their annual Patient Leakage and Keepage Report that surveyed 138 healthcare executives to assess the state of patients leaving for other healthcare systems, their reasons for doing so, and what is being done to stem the leakage.

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A report published by St. Paul, Minnesota-based ABOUT Healthcare found that a majority of health systems said losing patients to other health systems kept them from meeting financial goals and that preventing such losses could boost revenue by 17 percent.

The report surveyed 138 healthcare leaders to assess the prevalence of losing patients to other healthcare systems — termed as patient leakage — and explore what is being done to stop it.

27% of respondents said patient leakage increased with the pandemic. While saying that they suffered such losses, many respondents reported that their hospital does not have a successful way of quantifying the leakage. Specifically, 90% said they did not have high confidence in their hospital’s insights into patients leaving for other systems, according to the report.

Understanding why patients leave could enable healthcare systems to prevent it, which could have a huge impact on their bottom line. In fact, for each dollar spent to decrease patients leaving for other systems, hospitals stand to gain $31.36, according to the report, and potentially up to $500 per dollar spent.

And they do have some insights into why patients leave. For example, 48% cited losing patients to competition from other systems as the number one reason for leakage. Lack of talent (35%) and lack of appropriate services (32%) were the next most cited causes for patients leaving, according to the report.

Only 57% of those surveyed said their hospital uses technology to quantify how many patients are leaving for other systems.

The idea of patient leakage is not unique to the pandemic. Hospitals have worked for years to address the issue. For example, 41% of healthcare systems have actively worked to reduce the number of patients lost over the past 5 years, the report said. And 60% of those actively working to reduce leakage saw results after two years of implementing changes. Further, 62% reported that their hospital actively trains employees on how to retain patients and not lose them to other healthcare systems.

Moving forward, the report advocates not only that hospitals take actionable steps to improve patient retention (given the financial potential for saving $500 for every $1 spent on retention), but that they should also adopt a systemic approach to care to do so. In other words, it is worth the effort to make the care within a system seamless, from providers to specialists to outpatient care beyond the hospital.

Photo: FG Trade, Getty Images; Graphs/Charts: ABOUT Healthcare