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The Cure for What’s Ailing Your Staff Shortages

Posted on Apr 19, 2022 by Mike Rigert

    overworked staff graphic

    It’s no secret that healthcare practices and organizations are a bit short-handed right now. Between COVID fatigue, burnout, and turnover from employees leaving for higher paying positions, finding enough employees to staff your front office and call centers right now might seem like an extreme uphill battle.

    In a 2022 survey conducted by Solutionreach, we found that staff shortages are overwhelmingly the biggest pain point facing practices and organizations. For example, among dental, vision, and dermatology groups, 40% said labor shortages were their largest challenge. Similarly, 36% of medical practices and organizations also said keeping their front office staffed was their most difficult operational task.

    But short of being able to fill those positions, you’ll need to take a novel approach to make up for that loss of labor force. As you’ve likely found, it’s unsustainable to operate long term with a skeleton crew and to properly utilize staff to serve your patients, keep up with operational logistics, keep down costs, and grow your business.

    It might be glaringly obvious, but the most cost-effective elixir given the current economic and job outlook situation is to turn to technology. Only digital tools will allow you to do more with fewer personnel resources so that you can continue to keep a steady stream of patients coming through your door.

    The following are 4 key digital patient communications tools that can help you fill the staff shortage gap and give you the capabilities to book more patients, deliver an optimal patient experience, and deliver the operational efficiencies to make your organization profitable:

     

    1. Automated reminders and recall

    A smaller front office or call center can’t possibly keep up with all the manual reminders and call volumes needed to ensure your patients keep their appointments. Only a digital tool that sends out multiple automated text, email, and voice reminders can give you the efficiency and effectiveness to fill your waiting room. 

    Along the same lines, an automated recall tool that can send out recall notifications based on a patient’s age, diagnosis, or date of their last visit can help patients avoid gaps in care for preventive visits and chronic disease management. Automated reminders and recall allow you to interact with and see more patients while also increasing revenue despite having a smaller staff.

     

    2. Texting and Two-Way Text Messaging

    A patient communications platform that gives you the ability to text patients and also communicate with them in real-time via two-way texting is a must in 2022. Patients don’t want to be hassled by phone calls and voicemails. Like today’s consumer-oriented world, patients expect and demand the ease, speed, and convenience of getting texts from their healthcare providers. 

    Two-way texting allows patients to ask a question or reschedule without having to make a phone call and wait on hold. Both texting and two-way texting help lower call volumes which helps create operational efficiencies for your staff. Texting means happier, more satisfied patients that will build patient loyalty to support your retention efforts.

     

    3. Surveys and Newsletters

    A comprehensive patient engagement platform can also provide you with tools to send automated surveys to patients to evaluate satisfaction, rate your providers, and know how likely patients are to recommend your organizations to friends and family. Automatically send out a survey after each appointment and identify your “practice champions.” Easily invite them to leave you an online review, which also boosts your online reputation and helps you attract more new patients. 

    Sending periodic newsletters is also a great way to market your practice, and include easy links for patients to request an appointment or refer a friend. You can also keep patients informed about relevant health topics and remind them to schedule key preventive and chronic care appointments. Both tools help you extend your reach, book more appointments, and grow your business.

     

    4. Pre-Visit and Post-Care Messaging


    Avoid having patients showing up late and unprepared for appointments by automatically sending them pre-visit instructions to have lab work completed, bring their medications, or way-finding directions. Your patients will appreciate the helpful reminders that ensure their visit goes off as planned instead of having them show up to the office only to have to reschedule because they didn’t arrive prepared. 

    Similarly, patients often forget most of the care instructions they receive from a practitioner or doctor during their appointment. Automatically send them post-care instructions to increase adherence and to remind them to schedule important follow up care and to pick up their prescriptions. Pre-visit and post-care messaging can help you increase the chances your patients will have a good experience, help them better adhere to their care plans, and help streamline the care journey and book more appointments.

    We totally get that it’s far from ideal conditions in your front office or call center given your current inability to fully staff your organization. Help lighten the burden on your staff, reduce burnout, and serve more patients by considering digital options that can help you optimize patient engagement. A robust patient communications platform might be just the ticket for what ails your ability to reach your patients efficiently and effectively. These tools can serve as a virtual staff multiplier to help your organization function more smoothly given today’s realities.

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    To learn more about how digital tools can help you overcome staffing disruptions, interact with more patients, and streamline your workflows, check out the guide, “The Perfect Appointment Workflow: A Path to Improved Patient Outcomes and Increased Revenue.” 

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    Mike Rigert

    Mike Rigert

    Mike Rigert is a writer and content marketing specialist with more than a decade of expertise in the B2B SaaS healthcare sector. He enjoys finding fresh and creative ways to tell the story about Solutionreach's innovative and life-changing patient relationship management platform. In his spare time, Mike enjoys diving into books, geeking out with scifi, expanding his knowledge of military history, and spending time with his wife and three kids.

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