Your MedTech company’s success is directly tied to your clients’ success. The healthcare organizations benefiting most from your systems or services need to maintain an adequate patient volume — and adequate revenues — to operate and continue to use your products. Patient leakage (i.e., patients seeking care or receiving referrals outside of a healthcare organization or outside of an expected catchment area) can threaten your clients’ ability to maintain volumes which impacts their viability, and in turn, could create a negative impact on your bottom line.
According to a study by referral management platform Fibroblast, 87 percent of healthcare executives consider patient leakage extremely or very important, although about one in five healthcare organizations do not understand where and why leakage occurs. In addition, 43 percent of healthcare executives say they’re losing more than 10 percent of annual revenues due to patient leakage.
Understanding where patients come from — and where they go — will provide valuable insights that you and your clients can use to make business decisions that lead to greater patient volume and greater profitability.
What Data Can Tell Healthcare Providers About Their Patients
Understanding patient treatment destinations doesn’t have to be a guessing game nor does it need to rely on difficult to access and analyze patient registration data. There is considerable data available in the public domain which deliver important insights to healthcare organizations in terms of where their patient panels are coming from and where they ultimately wind up receiving treatment.
These data can be used to answer important questions such as:
For example, a hospital service area (HSA) is the geographical region from which a hospital or facility draws residents from and delivers care to. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) publishes an annual data set to enable anyone to gauge how many patients wind up receiving inpatient care at any facility, down to the zip code level. Cases can be sorted by counties and ZIP codes in that local market to show where patients reside and the volume receiving specific types of care.
With such a detailed view of the potential market, a healthcare organization can calculate its market share overall, as well as for specific types of inpatient cases. More specifically, you can compare the number of patients treated at Facility A to the total number of residents treated to determine the percentage of the market it serves in that defined geography.
Calculate this market share for 25, 50, and 100-mile radius around the facility’s location to gain a better appreciation for the flow of patients and the residents’ preferences for seeking out healthcare services. Follow the data… you’ll quickly uncover which geographies wind up consuming the most care and which geographies are growing and declining.
For a MedTech company looking to add additional value, or even to simply start a conversation with a prospective hospital client, these types of powerful analyses can be hugely impactful because it can uncover opportunities for market awareness and education campaigns to drive greater patient volume.
What Data Can Tell Healthcare Providers About Their Competition
Data on patient treatment destinations can also reveal competitive healthcare providers’ market share, including insights into which facilities have the greatest case volume from any given ZIP code, the revenues they’ve received from particular services delivered to patients residing in those zip codes, and year-over-year increases or decreases in case volume and revenue.
Intuitively, the healthcare facility closest to the patient should see the highest volume, but data will confirm if patients are traveling to facilities farther from their homes, perhaps due to healthcare system affiliations or because they are seeking special treatments only available (or perceived to be available) at an alternative facility.
Calculating a patient leakage metric will uncover the rate at which patients are staying close to home versus traveling elsewhere to receive care. A healthcare organization can use this data to see where patients are going for care in contrast to their own expectations based on referrals and scheduled appointments. Using this process, patient leakage can be identified, down to specific treatments and procedures and the providers that ultimately provide the care.
High overall leakage is a financial threat to any hospital. Leaked patients not only represent a missed revenue and reimbursement opportunity for that service but potentially missed revenue for the lifetime of the patient. Being aware of the preferences and ultimate destinations patients select for care can help a facility decrease the patient leakage rate. Increasing the rate of relevant patients getting treated at this facility will both grow the immediate financials of the facility, but also pay dividends over time.
Actionable Insights From Patient Leakage Data
Once a healthcare provider has a clear picture of where patients come from and where they’re going — especially if they are not utilizing treatment within the healthcare organization’s system — the healthcare organization can make informed business decisions related to:
Instead of investing in widely distributed campaigns, marketers can focus on geographic areas where their patients reside. Or, they can ramp up efforts in areas where they’re losing patients to competitors. Also, monitoring these metrics over time will reveal whether the numbers of patients from those areas are increasing in response to those initiatives.
Healthcare organizations can build new relationships with community physicians in areas where their patients most often reside. Connecting with those community physicians with access to additional technologies and enhanced services will allow them to deliver better care, with greater convenience to their patient panels.
If a healthcare system is losing patients to providers with facilities closer to their homes, the system may consider establishing a satellite facility that is more convenient for its patients. The data will help to optimize the optimal location based on the ZIP codes of origin of their targeted patient population.
If a facility is losing market share to a competitor, perhaps there is an opportunity to level in how care is delivered. As a MedTech company, you can leverage an analysis on patient treatment destinations to paint a picture of how your technology or service can help the facility deliver higher quality care with the end goal of capturing the hearts and minds of more patients.
Adding Value to Your Relationships With Your Clients
MedTech sales reps can help healthcare providers understand their local markets using data analysis and pinpoint areas of patient leakage. Data acquisition and analysis may be beyond a healthcare organization’s in-house capabilities, so it may be worth it to consider using a platform specifically designed to calculate and better understand local healthcare dynamics, such as patient leakage. You’ll add significant value to your prospects understanding of their own market by helping them build a strategy to maintain the patient volume and revenues they need to thrive in their local community.
You will increase the chances of closing the deal if you can also demonstrate how your MedTech system or service can help curb patient leakage and grow a physician network by providing patients with competitive, cutting-edge treatments and a higher standard of care. Getting this information to the right people in the right market at the right point in your sales process will create a win-win situation for your firm, the healthcare organization and ultimately their ability to deliver a sustainable and high-quality set of healthcare services.
About the Author
Carevoyance contributor Bernadette Wilson of B Wilson Marketing Communications is an experienced journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer, specializing in content for technology companies.