No practice wants to be called a “dinosaur,” but you heard it here first: Dinosaurs would have made great doctors. For millions of years, dinosaurs showed all the characteristics of powerful patient communication. Here are five important patient communication principles that have literally been around for ages:
Strong patient communication has teeth.
Whether it’s an appointment reminder or an invitation to participate in a simple survey, patient communication should make an impact. It should be delivered in the ways that will help patients feel it most – email, text message, or however they prefer to receive it. The trick is managing that increased communication volume and preference in a way that the practice can handle. Dinosaurs had actual teeth to make their impact. Your patient communication requires a different tool.
Patient communication shouldn’t be slow.
Dinosaurs were fast (most of them anyway), and that speed helped them survive. Do you focus on picking up the pace in your patient communication? How soon after a patient’s visit do you ask for feedback on their experience? Could you take a different approach to appointment reminders and other routine outreach messages to more efficiently connect with each patient? What would that freed-up time mean for the staff’s speed on other important tasks?
Reach builds relationships.
Brontosaurus had a long neck and could eat leaves from the tops of trees. It found food no other dinosaur could claim because of one crucial characteristic: Reach. When we consider the competition that comes from other healthcare providers, it’s reach that retains patients and keeps them actively connected with your practice. For many practices, an increase in reach comes from an increase in communication throughout the care continuum. That communication comes outside of the appointment setting, including educational content and opportunities to provide feedback to the practice. It builds relationships and gives your practice the reach to keep competitors away from your patients.
Patient communication comes in different shapes and sizes.
Don’t kid yourself. T. Rex is the first thing that pops into your head when you think “dinosaur.” But we know that dinosaurs came in all shapes and sizes. Some were small, some seemed like birds, and yes, some looked like T. Rex. Keep that in mind when you consider how you communicate with patients. It should take on many forms. Some communications, like the appointment reminder, are short and simple. Others like an eNewsletter should have more content to help patients manage their conditions or take away valuable tips for healthy living. Embrace variety in your patient communication.
Patient communication should be assertive.
Any dinosaur would have told you they weren’t aggressive, just assertive. They knew what they wanted and took action to make it happen. An assertive patient communication plan is mindful of what patients need and uses very direct tactics to confidently provide them with supporting information. There is such a thing as too much communication, but successful practices know the sweet spot to create long-lasting provider-patient relationships.