Skip to main content

Patient Leakage Can Sink Your Revenues by 20% or More

Analysis  |  By Jack O'Brien  
   October 31, 2018

A majority of hospital executives recognize patient leakage as a problem that's costing their respective systems, but few have taken steps to properly address it.

More than four out of five healthcare executives report that patient leakage is a serious problem facing their organizations, though not many have implemented solutions to curb the dilemma, according to a new survey from Fibroblast, commissioned from Sage Growth Partners.

Patient leakage occurs when a patient referral that should stay inside a health network ends up leaving for another or a patient that should receive care in the network but doesn't follow through on the care.

Among the numerous financial challenges that healthcare executives face, patient leakage is a quandary with a clinical angle that requires immediate action to stem the tide and recoup lost revenues. 

Who's aware of patient leakage:

  • 87% of executives say it's a high priority
  • 23% don't track it
  • 20% don't know where or why it happens

Just over one-third of polled executives reported that they understand where and why patient leakage occurs, with 60% saying they don't follow up with patients to determine if they received care from the physician they were referred to.

What patient leakage costs annually:

  • 43% of executives say they've lost 10% or more of revenues
  • 23% say they don't know how much they're losing
  • 19% say they've lost 20% or more

Scott Vold, CEO of Fibroblast, the company which commissioned the Sage Growth Partners survey, told HealthLeaders that patient leakage goes beyond the traditional financial challenges CFOs face because it poses a risk to the value-based care model due to patients developing an event that is more acute than it should've been had they received care. 

"If it's not already, reducing patient leakage, including the referral management process, should be their top priority for 2019," Vold said. "They need to take thoughtful yet aggressive steps to do it. The good news is that it is an addressable problem that can be fixed and can have an enormous financial and strategic impact in a relatively short amount of time."

What's at fault and who will fix it:

  • 57% of executives are somewhat satisfied with their EMRs
  • 19% say they are not satisfied
  • 69% say patient leakage is handled by more than one person
  • 19% say they plan to purchase a third-party solution
  • Only 2% currently have one in place

Jack O'Brien is the Content Team Lead and Finance Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.


Reducing patient leakage should be a top priority for CFOs in 2019, according to Scott Vold, CEO of Fibroblast.

The survey found most executives recognize the challenge of patient leakage but few have done anything to stem its effects.

Nearly one in five executives report losing more than 20% on patient leakage annually.

Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.