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Advances in technology are changing the way people interact with the world and with each other, with new advances adding convenience to our lives at a record pace. As a business owner, you naturally want to offer the most efficient and effective services to customers, but as a healthcare practitioner, you must temper this desire with very real legal and ethical concerns.

Any time you upgrade to new technologies meant to improve the lives of patients and increase efficiency within your operation, you need to consider how to balance them against legal concerns like protecting patient privacy, just for example. The good news is that high-tech communications can allow you to improve your business on every level and better serve your patient population while still addressing security concerns.

Connecting with patients in this era of unparalleled communications technologies has become easier than ever, and when you choose the right technologies, you have the opportunity to streamline performance and better meet patient expectations. It’s important to update your notice of privacy, inform patients about changes, and provide them with the opportunity to opt in (or out). From there, you stand to gain a lot from new modes of communicating with patients, particularly automated messaging options.

Convenience

Automated communications are a wonderful way to increase convenience for both your patients and your staff. These communications could include patient appointment reminders or follow-up messaging with reminders to schedule appointments if they weren’t made in-office during a visit. They could also deal with issues like overdue payment reminders, just for example.

These messages could be delivered via automated phone calls, text messages, and/or emails, and when you utilize multiple means of contacting patients, there’s a better chance that message will get through in a timely manner via at least one channel. When you inform patients of these options for contact and they opt in, they’ll soon get used to communicating in this way and see the convenience it adds to their lives.

In addition to having options for receiving and retrieving reminder messages, patients will have user-friendly options to reply. Automated calls could include the option to press a button to confirm an appointment, as well as an option to reschedule. With text and email, one-letter replies and one-click confirmation options make it easy to confirm or reschedule appointments.

Practices can also utilize this form of contact for automated communications campaigns. When flu and allergy seasons roll around, reminders can be sent out to myriad patients who may need shots or prescription refills. Healthcare providers could send out messaging about vaccinations and immunizations before school starts or prior to busy travel seasons when shots may be necessary.

This increases convenience not only for patients, but for employees, as well. Automation alleviates the necessity for live representatives to make calls in many cases, allowing your staff to focus on more important tasks like serving patients in-office and attending to other duties.

Customization and Personalization

Healthcare providers may worry that modern communications technologies like automated messaging depersonalize patient interactions, but this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Messaging can still be customized and personalized in a variety of ways.

Some methods of connection revolve around concise communications. Text messages are often less personalized than other communications because an economy of words is inherent in the format. No recipient wants to read a novel worth of text on their smartphone, and patients will appreciate your brevity in this format more than personalization. A reminder with the date and time of an upcoming appointment, as well as the option to confirm are sufficient.

However, automated emails and calls can allow you to use the patient’s name and flesh out messaging, perhaps even including additional information, such as preparation instructions for appointments and a list of items to bring along, if necessary. Follow-up communications could include specific information about treatments, medications, and directives provided in-office.

Naturally, you need to adhere to all applicable privacy laws when it comes to communications, regardless of format, but that doesn’t prevent you from customizing and personalizing certain types of messages in a variety of useful ways.

Security

There is a huge concern about secure communications, especially in the healthcare industry where use, storage, and access to confidential data is strictly regulated. While you have no control over the security of patient technology, you can create secure portals for information retrieval on your end and seek patient permissions for communications.

By utilizing several forms of communications technologies to connect with patients, you give them options to choose the platforms they feel most comfortable with. Some patients may not want you to leave messages on a home answering machine where other members of the household may hear them. In this case, receiving messages via email or text could be preferable, allowing for greater security and privacy for patients.

Feedback

Automated messaging technologies not only allow you to provide patients with valuable information that helps to streamline business operations, reduce missed appointments, and improve health outcomes, but they can also give you a convenient means of conducting follow-up and garnering feedback. With profiles and portals in place, you can send requests for patients to follow, like, and share on social medial, you can ask for online reviews, and you can send out follow-up surveys.

Patients may feel more comfortable with this form of proposal than if you solicit follow-up information in person in the office setting. Plus, buttons for click-through to appropriate portals make it easy and convenient for patients to respond and fulfill your requests for feedback.

Remaining Competitive

There are many ways to improve the patient experience, both during patient visits and beyond. If you want to remain competitive, you have to take strides to meet patient expectations, and these days, that includes incorporating technologies that add convenience for patients.

With automated messaging you have the opportunity to reduce workload so professionals in your office can devote more time and energy to patients in the office setting. You also increase options and convenience for patients outside of visits. It’s not only imperative to be aware of new technologies, but to adopt those that patients expect if you want to compete within your field and provide the best possible care.

 

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John Black -

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