Impact of Patient Service Recovery on Hospital’s Revenue, Online Reputation, and Patient Retention

Introduction to Patient Service Recovery

When something goes wrong, the best practice is to learn what happened and how you can make it right. A similar approach taken in healthcare services is called patient service recovery, which is the effort to satisfy the dissatisfied patients by identifying their issues and addressing them or making amends for them. By adopting a patient service recovery approach, you can turn the bad experience of dissatisfied patients into a positive experience.

Benefits of Patient Service Recovery Process

1. Revenue

A lot of resources are used in acquiring a new patient but if the patient is not retained, it means losing those resources. Additionally, you lose the marketing costs spent on patient acquisition and retention. However, patient retention is dependent mainly on the patient experience.

Negative patient experiences lead to an annual revenue loss of $100 million per hospital. Therefore, hospitals must implement patient service recovery to save themselves from revenue losses. An SCP Group report says returning patients contribute 40-50% of the total revenues of hospitals with good online reputation.

2. Reputation

Reputation is another factor severely impacted by an unhappy patient or a poor clinical service. In 96% of cases where a dissatisfied patient complains about your services, they spread that negative feedback to their friends, family, or others.

If a patient writes negative remarks in hospital reviews or talks badly about the experience on social media, the hospital’s online reputation recedes. In fact, it leads to low ratings, a decrease in credibility, negative word of mouth, and a damaged reputation, all of which are difficult to get back. Therefore, make patient service recovery an essential practice of your healthcare business as effective service recovery efforts lead to protection from negative public opinions.

3. Retention

Patient retention is imperative for any healthcare center. You have spent money and other resources on acquisition, marketing, and providing services to them. If you are not able to retain these patients, you lose your money and efforts. Therefore, starting with the patient service recovery steps is essential as soon as you learn about patients’ negative experiences.

When you recover an unhappy patient, their satisfaction levels are higher than those with no complaints. This is what is called the ‘service recovery paradox’. Based on this paradox, you must pay extra attention to patient service recovery and reassure them of better future services. If you guarantee no repetition of bad or insufficient services, you will be able to begin to build an environment of trust and credibility.

Fostering a Culture of Service Excellence

Instead of taking complaints as they come, developing a system of complaint and redressal can be the best patient service recovery approach. This system allows patients to lodge their complaints and express their dissatisfaction. The hospital can then resolve it quickly and respond to it in a customized way.

This system also allows hospitals to collect all these complaints and analyze them to generate insights. You can know patients’ common complaints and rectify them to improve your overall services.

The existence of such a system is a guarantee to patients that you care and are ready to resolve their issues. Generally, patients do not care to complain when they receive a bad service; they just take their business elsewhere. However, such a system allows you to reach out to dissatisfied patients and listen to their feedback before they voice it elsewhere. Your immediate reaction and remedial action to their complaint builds trust in them, which converts to retention.

Thus, creating a system of complaints and redressal can be an excellent tool for patient service recovery in healthcare services.

Steps to Patient Service Recovery

The patient service recovery process starts soon after receiving feedback from patients. Try following these six steps of service recovery:

► Apologize

The first thing that you must do when someone gives a genuine complaint is to say sorry. Tell them that you apologize for the mistakes and for not performing as per their expectations.

 ► Listen

The second step of service recovery is listening attentively to the complaining patient. Try to understand their point of view on what went wrong. You can also explain your plan of handling the issue to satisfy the patient.

► Reconcile

This is the time to be empathetic to the patient. Tell them that you care, understand their situation, and will try your best to rectify it.

► Act

Consider the complaint and address it in a personalized, reasonable, and fair way. You must act quickly before patients express their dissatisfaction elsewhere or to others.

► Follow up

Once you resolve the issue, ask your patients if they are satisfied with the actions taken as it shows that you care for patients’ satisfaction.

► Retain

Now that you have resolved their issue and satisfied them with your quick response, you can get their feedback on the complaint redressal system and promise better services in the future. Satisfied patients return to your healthcare services, which leads to retaining the patient.

Guidelines for Service Recovery

Having a complaint and redressal system and following the below steps of service recovery are essential for effective patient service recovery:

  • Develop a competent system to reach out to customers, get their feedback, and resolve the issues immediately. Don’t ignore their complaint or say that you cannot help them.
  • Recruit the right staff to handle the patient service recovery. They must be empathetic, impartial, and a problem-solver. They must listen attentively to patients, manage their emotions well, and try to close the complaint successfully.
  • Create a list of clear, comprehensive guidelines for your staff to operate this system. They must know their roles, responsibilities, backup plan, and extent of authority for action. In addition, they must be aware of the most frequent complaints and the measures taken to rectify them.
  • Implement detailed and clear rules and procedures on how to handle patient complaints.
  • Document these complaints, feedback, and criticism received from patients. You can analyze them further to develop a clear service improvement process.

These are the guidelines you can follow to ensure your patient service recovery efforts generate positive results, keeping your patients satisfied, and retaining more unhappy patients..