The Growth Channel

Outcomes tracking isn't just for care quality—it's good for referrals too

by Sarah Izzo

As new payment mechanisms compel providers to focus on the full continuum of care, establishing protocols to document, track, and analyze patient outcomes has become a "must-have." For those providers with robust outcomes tracking, our research has shown us they most typically use it to measure hospital performance and improve care quality. But we’ve identified other compelling uses for outcomes data.

Bolstering marketing efforts to increase patient volumes comes first to mind. Specifically, sharing patient outcomes data with referring physicians and patients in the community helps hospitals demonstrate high-quality care.

Read on to learn about three ways outcomes tracking and data sharing can help you capture market share.

I want to first note that outcomes metrics can fall into three categories: clinical (e.g. functionality outcomes), operational (e.g. LOS), and service (e.g. patient satisfaction). When thinking about using outcomes data for marketing care quality, you must first determine the target population of your marketing campaign and isolate the outcomes that are most meaningful to that audience.

1. Strengthen existing referral relationships

Sharing outcomes with physicians can turn an informal referral relationship into a long-term working relationship. Formalized protocols for tracking long-term patient outcomes ease transitions between specialists and community PCPs, especially for chronic disease management. In this instance, the act of tracking requires hospital-based specialists and community PCPs to remain in touch—keeping the lines of communication open and aiding in care continuity. Furthermore, sharing positive patient outcome data solidifies the referring physician’s trust in care quality and reinforces a continuing referral relationship.

2. Enhance marketing efforts to potential referrers

Outcomes tracking doesn’t just help strengthen current referral relationships; it also helps build new referral streams. You can leverage meaningful functionality outcomes to market your care quality to physicians who may not have existing relationships with your providers. Operational and service outcomes, such as short wait time-to-appointment and high patient satisfaction, can also help sway potential referrers in your direction.

3. Tap into patient consumerism

With patients’ increasing willingness to shop around for care that meets their financial, quality, and experience preferences, providers must ensure that information is available to potential patients. As a result, tracking outcomes and sharing that data has become critical.

Consumer-targeted campaigns that highlight success stories and high quality care can attract self-referrals. Comprehensive websites and advertising campaigns that highlight positive clinical outcomes and guide consumers through the interpretation of the metrics can build your program’s brand and reputation. Furthermore, including quotations or testimonials directly citing patient success can capitalize on the rise in patient consumerism and draw new patients into your program.

What do your consumers really want from health care?

We asked nearly 2,000 health care consumers if they would follow their PCP to a new clinic—and just 9% said they would. Patient loyalty isn’t a given. Get this free guide to learn how to maximize the impact of your consumer research efforts.