When the term "patient experience" is mentioned, usually a few obvious aspects come to mind: wait time, interactions with the staff, competency of the doctor, and organization of the practice. Those are all important parts of the patient experience because those are the things that patients will reflect on after they leave your practice. But the patient experience lasts longer than the time the patient spends in your office, and it’s important to put time and effort into connecting with your patients between appointments, not just when they are in your office.
With patient relationship management (PRM) software that integrates with your existing practice management system, much of the between-appointment communication can be automated. That means communication doesn’t have to take much time out of your already busy days, but it can greatly increase patient loyalty and satisfaction in your practice.
Staying connected with your patients keeps your practice at the front of their minds. With PRM software, it’s easy to schedule newsletters or emails to be sent to your patients, or posts to social media. These can be emails introducing a new staff member to your practice, announcing a contest or event you are hosting, educational newsletters with information about a specific condition or general health tips, or social media posts about your holiday office hours.
Your patients want to hear from you between visits (although it’s important to make sure everything you send is relevant to the audience receiving it) and receiving consistent communication from their provider increases the connection they feel to your practice. When it’s time to schedule their next appointment, they will already be thinking about you, and will be able to easily find a link to schedule online or contact your office to book an appointment.
Not only do these types of connections build loyalty and encourage patients to return to your practice, it also increases the trust your patients have in you as a provider. If they can see your practice is staying up-to-date with the latest developments and passing that information to your patients, they will put more credibility in the treatments you prescribe. They also want to know they can rely on your practice. Posting updates and sending texts or emails letting patients know of unexpected closures or changes to your hours or location isn’t only the courteous thing to do, it allows patients to feel connected and valuable to your practice and builds a trusting relationship.
Along with cultivating patients trust in your expertise, staying connected with educational information right to their email inbox can also help improve patient outcomes. About 70 percent of patients are already searching their symptoms on the internet before they schedule an appointment with their provider. The difficult part is that an internet search doesn’t always produce accurate results. With so much information available, it’s easy for patients to do a quick search, and come to an incorrect self-diagnosis.
There isn’t much you can do about the online symptom-checking your patients are going to do, but without too much work you can help them out and make sure they see correct and updated information straight from you. Creating educational newsletters and scheduling them to be delivered to patients on a regular basis can guide patients toward accurate information, and help them make decisions that lead to better outcomes.
To learn more about how engaging with patients between appointments can benefit your practice, check out the white paper ‘Three Reasons Patient Engagement Matters More Than Ever.'