New research suggests that just because patients like their provider doesn’t mean they will stay with the practice. And it isn’t just more-demanding millennials who are switching. Loyal, long-term baby boomer patients are looking for a better experience elsewhere.
For years, providers have thought that patients generally left a practice only for a couple of reasons: changes in insurance or a personal move to a new location. Times have changed, and the Patient Provider Relationship Study recently revealed that this just isn’t the case anymore.
Last year, one in eight patients left their primary care provider, and nearly 40% said it was because of service and experience. Specifically, they identified issues like dissatisfaction with the office staff, poor communication, feeling more like a number than a person, and difficulty with scheduling.
When patients were asked if they were considering leaving their provider in the next two years, about one in three said they were. When broken out by generation, millennials were the most likely to be thinking about switching, but even boomers were at risk. Twenty percent of baby boomers said they were at least considering switching primary care providers.
Baby boomers are the second-largest generation after millennials, but they are the largest consumers of healthcare services. For many practices, boomers still make up a substantial portion of the patient panel. Currently, there are about 75 million baby boomers in the U.S. If 20% are considering leaving their primary care provider, that equates to 15 million patients on the move.
So when it comes to baby boomers, what do practices need to do to help ensure they stay loyal? It might be surprising to hear that much of what practices need to do to retain boomers is the same as what they need to do to retain younger generations.
There has long been a myth that baby boomers are slow to adopt technology and don’t use the internet, smart phones, or social media. The Patient Provider Relationship Study found this isn’t true. And that study is supported by other surveys conducted by groups like Pew Internet Research.