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How Increasing Patient Engagement Benefits Struggling Rural Hospitals

doctor checking the pulse of a patient

As in any organization, hospitals are not immune to financial challenges. As healthcare costs continue to go up, patients are putting off care temporarily or entirely. Rural hospitals are the most susceptible to financial hardships and it has only gotten worse in recent years. Prior to COVID-19, a survey found that one in five, or 430, rural hospitals are at risk to close and 100 have closed since 2010.

As these hospitals continue to be strained, it’s important to focus on ways to improve their bottom line. An ideal way of doing this is through patient engagement, but why?

Here are just some of the benefits of increasing patient engagement at a rural hospital, or at any health provider.

Increases Loyalty

Staying connected to patients through in-person or telehealth appointments, or through other communication tools like email, mail, phone, text or a digital health platform, is a great way to increase patient loyalty. This fosters strong personal connections with patients so they aren’t inclined to miss appointments or miss bill payments, especially as many patients who visit rural hospitals travel many miles for care. These hospitals are an integral part of the community and they have an advantage over flooded hospital markets because they can readily form personal connections with patients and keep these relationships going through digital health throughout the year. 

When patients are in need of care, they want to go to someone they know well and can trust. Patient engagement takes time and consistent messaging, but the results increase market share over time.

Builds Word-of-Mouth

Believe it or not, there are people who rave about their doctor. These are the people you want in your corner, especially in a rural community. These are also people who are “hardwired” psychologically to be chat-leaders and peer influencers. PatientBond has identified five distinct psychographic segments among healthcare consumers, based on their attitudes, values and approaches to health and wellness. One segment in particular - the Self Achievers - are statistically the most likely to share their opinion about providers among friends and on social media. Nurturing Self Achievers’ advocacy is critical for provider success, and PatientBond can identify these segments among a patient population and in the community.

The only way these patients will continue to rave about their doctor is by keeping in touch with their doctor. And while providers might not want to hear it, it shouldn’t be up to patients to keep that communication going. Create communication opportunities with patients by automating appointment reminders or messages after a patient’s recent surgery. Look into acquiring a digital health platform so patients can use telehealth or message their providers through the platform. Patients will appreciate you thinking of them, which leads to the ones raving about how personable their doctor is.

Increases Revenue

The bottom line is patient engagement improves the bottom line. The more patients are engaged, the more they want to return. Of course, you want a patient’s health outcomes to improve, but you also don’t want patients missing key touch points either, like their annual check-up or a flu shot. This creates more revenue and could increase collections as well since these patients are engaged with providers. When you do move into new revenue streams, like telehealth, these patients will be more likely than others to consider them. If not, they will tell a friend or family member who is looking for those services, especially since a resource like telehealth is invaluable to rural communities.

All of these approaches not only increase market share and patient payments, but they also improve health outcomes. And a proven way to get people to use these services is through psychographic segmentation

Psychographics focus on people’s beliefs, values and attitudes to determine what motivates them to take action. So when you’re sending an email or even a text to a patient, it’s crafted in a way that will get them to contact their doctor.

PatientBond has proven results time and time again and now we’ve taken it to the next level with the PatientBond Digital Health Platform. Contact us today for more information.

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