Living in the Information Age like we do can be crazy, complex, and often just plain confusing. As a result, your patients at any given time have a plethora of questions about their healthcare:
- Do I need to get the COVID booster and the flu vaccine? Can I get them at the same time?
- Should I get a fluoride treatment at every dental check-up/cleaning? How do I avoid gum disease?
- How often should I be getting a vision exam? Do I need to get one more frequently if I have diabetes?
The no-brainer solution when people have these types of questions is to hop online and query the all-knowing, all-mighty Google. But the interwebs can be a two-edged sword. It can be beneficial if patients know where to get the best, most reliable health information. If they’re visiting sites like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the Mayo Clinic, or WebMD, they’re probably on the right track.
But the danger is there’s also plenty of iffy, less credible online sources and websites that may offer information that’s inaccurate, outdated, or that is outright misinformation. Finding and relying on this type of information could lead your patients to make health decisions that are ineffective or even detrimental to their health.
That’s yet another reason why your role as their preferred dental, vision, or medical practice is critical to them attaining better outcomes. Your providers can answer all your patients’ health questions, guide them to reliable resources, and give them the most accurate and up-to-date information and counsel.
Your practice’s ability to be a source of healthcare truth can also serve as a way to book more appointments, help remind patients to schedule important recall visits, and promote offers on treatments and services. With Oct. 17-21 being National Health Education Week, it’s a great reminder of your practice’s key role and opportunities to give patients the answers they need.
But in today’s consumer-driven world, people want answers instantly and on-demand. Patients may not want to wait until they’re sitting on the examination table or in the dentist’s chair to get answers to their burning questions. Or, like many patients, they simply won’t be able to remember the care instructions they’ve been given during the visit. That’s why digital patient communications tools can be a tremendous asset to your practice in helping patients get the answers and health information they depend on to make informed decisions about their health.
Digital Tools to Extend Your Reach for Patient Education
Ideally, your practice should be using specific patient communications tools to amplify your ability to reach patients. You may want to share timely health news, health alerts, preventive and chronic care management information, and promote specials you’re running on treatments or procedures.
1. Templated Newsletters
A templated newsletter tool gives your staff the ability to quickly and easily drop the targeted education content, articles, and images into digestible content for patients. The solution also lets you pull in your patient email list or specific patient emails based on various criteria (age, diagnosis, date of last appointment) and personalize it to each recipient. You can also include clickable links in your newsletters to book an appointment online or refer a friend. Keep your patients informed and up to speed on all the latest health information that can help them make better decisions for better outcomes.
2. Two-Way Texting
Rather than patients bombarding your front office staff with calls to ask questions about their health, vaccines, services you offer, etc., give them—and your team— the convenience of two-way texting. A real-time, two-way texting tool allows patients to text questions directly to your practice’s main number without ever having to make a call. It gives your staff the flexibility to reply in between other tasks instead of dropping everything to take a call. Patients love two-way texting not only because it’s quick, easy, and convenient but also because it’s become the standard way consumers interact with businesses and services. If patients want to discuss their specific protected health information (PHI), you can use the tool’s HIPAA consent feature to continue the conversation or take it offline on a call.
3. Post-Visit Care Instructions
Roughly half of patients can’t remember the care instructions they receive during an appointment. Boost adherence by easily texting them post-care instructions along with a reminder to schedule any needed follow-up visits. A reliable patient messaging tool gives you the ability to automate sending personalized post-visit care instructions to patients using patient information or options such as appointment type or diagnosis.
Take ownership of your practice’s authority and expertise as a source of healthcare truth to provide a better patient experience. Build upon that relationship of trust you have with your patients by using technology to better answer questions, provide targeted health education, and meet their needs. Patient communications tools can be the gateway to better serving more of your patients more effectively and efficiently by equipping them with the knowledge they need to make the best healthcare decisions.