Moving to Value-Based Care Requires a Smarter Patient Acquisition Strategy

February 27, 2020 | Stericycle Communication Solutions

Operationalizing value-based care models is still a work in progress for many health systems. However, a decade or so into the shift from fee-for-service to value-based care payment models, the industry is making slow but steady progress.

According to a report from the Health Care Payment Learning & Action Network, only 39% of healthcare payments made in 2018 were still based on fee-for-service with no link to quality or value. More than one-third (36%) were tied to a bundled payment model, shared savings contract, population-based payment model, or other alternative payment model. A further 25% were fee-for-service that was tied to value and quality.

While the top focus has to be on delivering the highest quality care, one aspect of the shifting business model that doesn't always get the level of attention it needs is patient acquisition. In the value-based care world, health systems need to rethink their strategy for access and acquisition in a way that:

  • Brings in net-new patients while meeting overarching value-based care goals
  • Reduces the cost of patient acquisition and the cost to deliver care
  • Improves the patient experience and grows patient lifetime value

This requires a smart patient acquisition strategy that optimizes the consumer journey while improving operational efficiency and reducing costs.

Acquiring net-new patients

Health systems don't only have new reimbursement models to worry about, there's also the rise of consumerism. Acquiring net-new patients means understanding and meeting the expectations of today's healthcare consumers, starting with the shopping experience.

Consumers now want to shop for providers the same way they shop for other products and services. Beginning their search online, they create a short list of potential providers and then work through the list to choose the one best suited to their needs based on things like whether the provider accepts their health insurance, recommendations from others, ratings, convenience, location, availability and more.

To rise to the top of the list, your health system must win the organic search battle so that your website displays as high up on the first page of results as possible. This requires a strong digital strategy that includes search engine optimization (SEO), online reviews and ratings, consistently updated and high-quality content, and social media.

Reducing costs by getting patients the right care in the right setting

Connecting patients with the right venue of care at the right time impacts outcomes, satisfaction, and healthcare costs — all of which are key metrics within a value-based care model. To help patients self-identify the correct venue for their needs, health systems need a virtual triage capability.

Virtual triage helps healthcare consumers find and schedule access to the right venue of care within your system for the issue they are having. Based on your organization's typical conditions seen and the symptoms associated with those conditions, you can help patients quickly and accurately self-determine whether they should be going to the emergency department, urgent care, primary care or a specialist.

Improving patient experience and loyalty to drive lifetime value

The last critical component of your patient acquisition strategy is getting them to schedule an appointment. To do so, you need to make the experience as frictionless as possible. For instance, offering online scheduling, among other self-service options, makes it easy for consumers to choose your health system over those that don't offer online convenience.

Many of today's healthcare consumers want and expect health systems to offer digital capabilities, with 68% saying in an Accenture survey that the ability to book, change or cancel appointments online would increase the likelihood of choosing that provider.

Don't forget though that some portions of the population still prefer speaking by phone to an actual person. This doesn't mean they like leaving voice mail and playing phone tag. Instead, they want to speak with someone in real time who can help them find and book the right service at the right location with the right provider.

It's this combination of engaging and convenient online scheduling and live voice scheduling that helps you increase patient acquisition rates as you adapt to value-based care models.

To learn more about improving patient access and acquisition, here are 4 ways to attract and convert the healthcare consumer.

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