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25 May

Patient Loyalty can Reap Rewards

Patient Loyalty can Reap Rewards

The loyalty rewards programs that are very popular among airline passengers and grocery stores customers could soon be coming to a doctor’s office near you!

In 2013 Primary Health Networks, a group of federally qualified community health centers located in Pennsylvania and Ohio, launched V.I.P Loyalty Program to their patient members.  One of the goals of the loyalty program is to reduce the 15 percent “failed to show” rate at many medical practices.  Another compelling reason to initiate loyal programs for patients is to decrease the number of chronic healthcare conditions, which account for more than 80 percent of the U.S. healthcare costs.  It is wiser, and most cost effective to prevent an illness than to treat one!

Patients receive points in their accounts when they check in for their preventative-care visits and other services. Their cards are swipe and they can earn points towards t-shirts, tote bags, water bottles and other promotional product rewards.

Another benefit of patient loyalty programs is they could help keep patients from clinician hopping which can result in fragmented and poorly coordinated care. Keeping patients as satisfied consumers is a concept that hospitals have been facing in recent years and many have gone to great lengths to improve patient satisfaction.  Many hospitals employ Chief Experience Officers (CXOs) to increase patient safety, quality of care and increase patient satisfaction.

Today’s consumers do their research on where they choose to go for their healthcare needs through online reviews and referrals and loyal programs certainly fit into the consumer mentality of many patients. Although the loyal program idea is relatively new, “it’s definitely worth considering,” states Dr. Renuka Tipirneni, a member of University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. She and her colleagues agree that such programs can encourage patients to be more vigilant about the preventative healthcare needs.

Not everyone is agreement with patient loyalty programs. “It’s an innovative but conceptually tricky proposition, said Jason Wolf, president of the Beryl Institute.  He warns of “dropping a rewards program into an organization that is not focused on improving outcomes or making care affordable will not make a difference.”

As healthcare continues to develop ways to increase and retain patients, programs such as this will continue to increase.

How do you feel about patient loyalty programs?

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