Building ​Loyalty ​Through ​Ascension: 3 ​Ways to ​Strengthen ​Relationships with ​Existing Patients

Building Loyalty Through Ascension

EDUCATEFor healthcare organizations aiming to thrive, retaining and expanding utilization of services by existing patients is essential for sustaining growth. Known ​as “patient ascension,” ​the process of ​nurturing relationships ​to encourage broader ​and deeper engagement ​can lead to improved health ​outcomes and ​increased revenue. In this blog, we’ll explore why patient ascension is so important and three proven strategies your federally qualified health center, senior care facility, or physician’s group can use to boost loyalty and ascend patients to fuller participation.

Why ​Patient ​Ascension ​Matters

With the numerous demands on providers’ time, it’s easy to focus solely on delivering excellent care during office visits and lose sight of the bigger picture. But consider this: the patient journey begins and ends outside your doors. Winning ​trust and loyalty that ​extends beyond the exam room is key to helping patients achieve ​lasting health transformation.

Ascending patients to utilize a wider range of appropriate services also makes financial sense. According to consulting firm Kaufman Hall, outpatient visits generate 67% of hospital revenue. For clinics and private practices, retention and ascension are equally crucial for viability. To ​reap ​these benefits, ​you ​need a ​ ​strategic ​approach. Here are ​three impactful ​ways to nurture ​and strengthen ​bonds with ​patients to promote ​ascension.

Implement ​Health Risk ​Assessments

Health ​risk ​assessments (HRAs) ​are questionnaires ​patients complete ​to identify ​lifestyle risks, family histories, ​safety factors, and ​other health determinants. HRAs deliver multiple benefits:

  • Personalization. HRAs give ​providers ​valuable insights into each patient’s unique needs and circumstances to inform care and messaging. Having ​a ​​​comprehensive ​​understanding ​of ​a ​patient’s ​health risks ​and ​priorities ​enables ​you ​to ​make ​tailored ​recommendations ​​for ​follow-up ​services, screenings, ​or ​​lifestyle changes ​that ​will resonate ​most with ​that individual.
  • Risk awareness. Patients gain a comprehensive understanding of disease risks and prevention strategies. Using ​the personalized ​feedback ​​from ​the HRA, you ​can ​have productive conversations ​to ​educate ​patients about ​​steps they can ​take ​to reduce their ​​risks. This knowledge empowers patients to take charge of their health.
  • Relationship building. HRAs demonstrate your commitment to whole-person care beyond office visits. The act ​of ​having patients ​​complete a ​​detailed ​questionnaire ​conveys ​that you are invested in ​gaining a ​deeper ​understanding ​of ​their lives, needs, ​and ​goals. This fosters increased ​trust and ​loyalty.

Statistics back up the advantages. According to the CDC, 65% of patients who complete an HRA take at least one health improvement action, while 90% follow through on provider recommendations. Our clients have seen great success with our Covid-19 Vaccination and Depression. Online HRAs. Craft thoughtful HRA questions, communicate the benefits, and make it easy to complete pre-visit. You’ll deepen ​relationships ​and open ​doors to ​expanded care.

Apply Data ​to Enhance ​Provider-Patient ​Conversations

Every ​patient interaction ​offers an opportunity ​to strengthen ​bonds when you utilize ​data to deliver personalized, impactful communication. Using the latest in behavioral economics allows you to transform data into effective patient messaging. Techniques like motivational ​interviewing uncover patients’ ​circumstances, priorities, ​and barriers to determine optimal messaging ​strategies. As one example, a 2020 study in The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found motivational interviewing increased adherence to treatment plans by 30%. When you understand an individual patient’s mindset, you can have focused conversations to convey care instructions in a way that aligns with their needs and style of communication. This helps the patient view you as an ally rather than an authority figure.

Likewise, ​behavior health analytics ​identify factors influencing ​individuals’ health actions. With these insights, ​you can tailor interactions ​to connect better and ​achieve shared goals. For instance, metrics may show that for a particular patient, text reminders are more effective than phone calls. Adjusting your outreach approach based on these data points demonstrates your commitment to finding what works for each person.

Thoughtful, data-driven communication promotes loyalty and ascension by conveying your commitment to understanding patients’ perspectives and helping them succeed. Investing time in thoughtful discussions during office visits, along with tailored follow-up, is key for ascending patients to increased utilization.

Eliminate ​Misconceptions ​About Costs to Increase ​Access

For underserved populations especially, the assumption that specialized or preventive care is unattainable poses a barrier to ascending patients to much-needed services. We believe every patient deserves not only quality healthcare but quality healthcare education.  An important piece of healthcare education is eliminating misconceptions about healthcare costs and accessibility. A 2022 Healthcare Costs Report found that while 76% of respondents had foregone care due to cost, nearly half were unaware of available financial assistance programs. Sadly, 37% avoided or postponed vital maternal health services because they believed them unaffordable.

You can help close this information gap by:

  • Running display ad marketing campaigns showcasing available low- or no-cost services and how to access them. Share testimonials from real patients who have benefitted.
  • Launch a paid search campaign with keywords to target those seeking low cost care. Our clients have seen great success in the Google Ad Grant program.
  • Training staff and providers on proactively discussing costs. Teach them to initiate conversations about financial concerns and available assistance programs.
  • Creating FAQ handouts for front office staff to distribute about low-cost services, payment plans, sliding fee scale, and government programs.
  • Promoting financial aid programs on your website and materials through clear messaging and easy-to-find resources.
  • Following up via phone after visits with underserved patients to check if costs are an obstacle and educate about resources.

Demystifying ​costs removes obstacles ​to essential screenings, ​reproductive care, dental visits, ​and other services to fulfill your mission of whole-person care.

Set Patients on a Path to Better Health

Like a pair of bookends, your interactions with patients stretch beyond the clinical setting to encompass the full continuum of their health journeys. Strategies to provide in-depth education, nurture open communication, and increase access establish the loyalty and trust for true ascension.

With thoughtful relationship-centered approaches, you can set patients on a path not just to periodic visits but to lifelong health transformation. Our ​team at Target Continuum ​partners with care facilities nationwide to ​develop 360-degree ascension ​and retention strategies; our approach typically begins with a behavioral health study which informs our messaging and digital outreach strategy. We also off unique conversion offerings, like Online HRAs to provide patient-first value. We look forward ​​to helping ​you ​remove ​barriers, ​​make meaningful ​​connections, and ​empower ​patients to take ​charge of their ​health.

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