Medical Professional on the phone

What is Ghosting and How it is Affecting the Medical Industry

Have you ever had a patient go AWOL? How about a friend who closed all channels of communication with you for no apparent reason or explanation? Then, you’ve experienced Ghosting. Or, should we say, “you’ve been ghosted!”

What is Ghosting?

Ghosting is the term used when someone suddenly disappears on you, and all effort to reach them is unsuccessful or rebuffed.  Yes, it’s from the literal meaning of the word ghost. Ghosting leaves the recipient of the act confused and asking questions that may never be answered, as the perpetrator will often ignore any communication attempt. It is more commonly associated, but not limited to personal relationships.

Currently, the medical industry is experiencing more cases of patients ghosting than it has in the past. Patients sometimes go completely incommunicado with their healthcare providers by failing to show up for their routine visits. Even new patients would sometimes fail to show up for their appointments with no explanations whatsoever!

What is the Trend Behind Ghosting?

Ghosting isn’t something that just suddenly started happening. Here’s a simple explanation of the trend behind it. During a difficult or unfavorable interaction, many people often wish they can disappear. You hear them say something like, “I wish the ground could just open up and swallow me whole.” With Ghosting, they get this chance. Ghosting is very much like they’ve vanished from the face of the earth – at least that is what it appears like to the other party. Today, many people, especially millennials, use it to get out of difficult situations where they may need to confront a person to resolve an issue.

The same thing applies in the medical industry when patients ghost health professionals because of anticipated negative news, or miss their routine appointment when they start to feel better. But, even worse is when patients ghost you when the topic of paying for the healthcare services they’ve received comes up. To avoid paying the bills, they stop taking your phone calls or responding to your messages.

 How Does Ghosting Affect the Medical Industry?

On the surface, ghosting a medical appointment may not seem like something that should concern your health facility. If there should be any cause for concern, it should be on the patient who is likely to suffer serious consequences for missing their appointment, right? Wrong! The fact is, your medical practice also suffers dire consequences due to patients ghosting.

For starters, patients ghosting affects the financial security of a medical practice in no small measure. When patients ghost billing or refuse to comply with doctors and insurance, your business can suffer significant financial losses. According to estimates, the cost of losing a single patient can be as high as $200,000 over the lifespan of your medical practice.

Prospective employees are not left out on the ghosting frenzy. After going through a stressful recruitment process, the perfect candidate you want to fill the vacancy would suddenly be out of reach or not respond to your offer letter; classic ghosting! The effect of this on the medical practice is that you’ll lose more potentially excellent candidates. Not to mention the wasted time and effort put into recruiting the candidate.  

In the end, your business will suffer if you do not put in measures to curb ghosting. To prevent patients from ghosting you, consider charging a security deposit when patients schedule appointments or procedures. Also, hiring an expert medical recruiter to find the best candidate who won’t suddenly go AWOL will reduce the risk of recruiting ghost prospective employees. If you need help with the latter, you can reach out to us at (insert company name) today!