Strategies to Better Connect with Patients
When is the right time to use patient engagement tactics in your practice? Before a person becomes a patient? Once they are an active patient? Or after their appointment before they need you again? The correct answer is - all of the above.
The healthcare market is a dynamic environment that is shifting as a result of changing demands. The pendulum has moved from episodic care to a more holistic idea of treatment; from an assembly line of patient volume, to a specific focus on connection and accountability. Today’s healthcare is focused on preventative care and preserving wellness.
More patients now view healthcare as a commodity, and they approach it with the same consumer-oriented view as they do any other major purchase in their lives. Their expectation is for customer service from their healthcare providers. They want convenience, they want speed, and they want portability. Understanding how patients want to be communicated with can help your practice foster better patient engagement and improve outcomes.
The opportunities for communication and patient engagement happen at every stage of the healthcare continuum. To better identify those opportunities, consider the following:
Prior to Care - The moment a potential patient seeks you out, your plan to engage that patient should already be in place. A fast, seamless path to care instantly engages that patient and reassures them that they have found the right care provider for their needs. Providing informational resources on your website allows prospective patients to access important information and builds their trust in your authority as well as your concern.
Another way to proactively engage both current and prospective patients is through an online scheduling option. Patients and prospective patients can access your schedule in real-time from their smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer to schedule an appointment at their own convenience. In addition to providing a convenient feature to these patients, you build engagement by empowering them to take the step to contact you.
Care Delivery - A seamless patient engagement strategy can benefit both preventative care and acute care services, as well as enhancing patient communication and education. Incorporating elements such as patient appointment reminders, or missed appointment messaging engages patients to take positive action on their own behalf. In addition to providing support materials on wellness, procedures, or alternative treatments, a comprehensive engagement strategy could include more effective means of providing test results for patients such as a patient portal. The more opportunities for contact you have with a patient, the higher and more significant the impact of that contact will be.
Follow-Up Care - Engagement shouldn’t end when treatment does. Additional appointments can continue to have appointment reminder notifications, and any additional test results or x-rays can be provided through the patient portal. Helpful articles, new research, or even relevant studies can be shared with your patients to demonstrate your ongoing concern for their well-being and care. This level of engagement not only builds confidence in patients, it also builds patient loyalty and retention.
As with all communication, the key to success is efficiency, and the key to efficiency is information. Continually monitoring, collecting, and analyzing your efforts will provide you with the necessary data to understand what is working effectively, and what requires re-examination. Enhanced patient communication and engagement foster stronger patient relationships. Taking advantage of every opportunity to offer that level of engagement is an investment in the future of your practice.
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