5 Types of Electronic Communication in HealthcarePosted: September 1, 2021 - By Melody Gandy-Bohr
Leading healthcare providers recognize that they must engage with patients consistently, instead of relying on in-person office visits as the only way to stay connected. Fortunately, practices can use electronic communication tools to convey information, deliver quality care, and foster relationships with patients. Today, patients have grown accustomed to using digital technology to interact with businesses of all kinds, and expect the same from their physician and other health care practitioners.
How can your practice use technology for improved patient communications? Your best bet is choosing a robust patient relationship management (PRM) solution that empowers you to communicate through multiple channels, such as email, text, and web. That way, you’ll be able to reach patients across all demographics on the channels they prefer and deliver essential information to meet their unique needs between visits. Your clinical and administrative teams can quickly adapt to new PRM tools and improve your electronic outreach to patients in no time.
Better electronic communication with patients helps you streamline operations and enhance patient satisfaction. You can also motivate patients to take charge of their health and optimize their wellbeing. Without question, investing in electronic communications one of the most critical steps your practice can take to provide a higher quality of care, earn higher satisfaction scores, and deliver better experiences for your patient community.
5 Tools That Improve Communication with Patients
A simple search on healthcare information technology reveals dozens of tools that claim to benefit any medical practice, health system, or group. But which tools should you use to help you meet your goal of delivering quality electronic communications to patients? Look for a PRM solution that includes five key features to achieve the best results and support your commitment to exceptional patient care.
Email has been a focal point of digital marketing for decades–for good reason. Easy to set up, administer, and measure, e mail remains one of the best and most cost-effective ways to reach your patient community. An advanced PRM solution lets your practice use campaigns, such as newsletters and announcements, that you can refine and repeat to build relationships with patients.
As an added benefit, you can segment your patient community into logical groups that let you convey more relevant and targeted messages to your patients. For example, primary care health practices or family physicians may tend to patients across the life span, but need to send different e mail communications to young adults, middle-aged patients, and seniors. Segmented email campaigns are a smart way to tailor electronic communications to varied audiences.
Today, you probably have an e mail app on your cell phone. So do your patients. That means your patients are likely to access and view your emails wherever they may be. By creating engaging subject lines, you can drive more email opens and get health information into the hands of patients that need it between in-person visits. You can also build stronger bonds between patients and physicians, which can inspire long-term loyalty and referrals to your practice.
Although email is highly effective, texting can be an even better method of communication with patients. Many people carry phones with them everywhere and keep them nearby all the time — whether at home, in the office, or on the road. Plus, many people have alerts set up to notify them about incoming text messages. As a result, patients often access texts from your practice within minutes after it’s sent.
Text messaging is useful for everything from reminders about upcoming visits to patient satisfaction surveys and review requests. To make the most of your outreach, you can enable two-way texting with your patients. Some practices allow patients to change or cancel appointments and submit feedback via text.
Also, due the COVID-19 pandemic, many physicians and care providers have started to collect check-in information and necessary forms via text to minimize in-person contact during visits. Although the driving force behind this shift was physician and patient safety, many practice managers have recognized that electronic check-ins improve efficiency and save time. It’s likely that many providers will continue to use electronic check-ins for in-person office visits, even after the pandemic threat subsides.
Many patients appreciate texting as a convenient form of communication that lets them stay in touch with care providers beyond visits. Your practice should definitely include text messaging in your multi-channel communication strategy.
Thanks to today’s electronic communication tools, every medical provider can eliminate the daily chore of appointment reminder calls. Instead, you can use your PRM solution to automate your reminder process to deliver messages via email, text, and phone and save significant time and effort. Multi-channel outreach is far more likely to reach patients and motivate them to confirm, cancel, or reschedule office visits or virtual appointments. You’ll be able to keep your schedule up to date and minimize costly no-shows, while helping patients receive the health care they need. Using electronic communication for appointment reminders is a must for every practice.
Since there is no one-size-fits-all way to remind patients about upcoming visits, you can use a reminder schedule that works for your practice. For semi-annual or annual office visits, you may want to send one reminder a week before the appointment to ensure patients have the time set aside on their schedule. Then you can follow up with the day before and the day of reminders. For patients engaged in ongoing care at a clinic or medical center, a different reminder cadence may be more appropriate.
Understanding patient groups and care needs is a critical step to adopting the right reminder strategy for your practice. The short time you invest in setting up appointment reminders will yield significant benefits for your office and team.
In the past, physicians needed to see patients in person to make diagnoses and recommend treatments. However, today’s health care providers can handle many visits remotely through the use of telemedicine. Best-of-breed telemedicine platforms support secure, HIPAA-compliant video conferencing, along with group conferencing and virtual waiting rooms. Physicians can deliver clinical information and discuss care with patients in a private, safe, and secure virtual environment. In addition, practices can allow online scheduling, disseminate electronic bills and prescriptions, and enable secure messaging between physicians and patients.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine is becoming one of the fastest-growing electronic communication tools in health care. COVID-19 compelled many care providers to use electronic tools for some visits to minimize traffic in the office and support social distancing guidelines. Patients learned the benefits of connecting with physicians via electronic telemedicine and appreciated the convenience, comfort, and privacy gained through having medical visits at home. Now that many patients have had their first experiences with telemedicine, they will be more likely to use virtual visits in the years ahead.
One of the best type of electronic communication to deploy is patient portal technology. When patients have access to a personalized portal, they can access critical clinical information about their health and treatment plans. In addition, portals can house invoices, support electronic payments, and allow patients to schedule and cancel appointments. Some portals store a patient’s electronic health record or test results so that the patient can access these critical data with ease.
Another key portal feature is secure messaging that empowers patients to communicate with or ask questions of physicians or medical team members. Often, patients have minor needs that you can address through a few short one-to-one messages via patient portals. With this means of communication, you can reduce inbound calls and time-consuming callbacks, while giving patients the insights they need to make positive health and lifestyle choices. Without question, messaging through secure patient portals is one of the most effective ways for patients and physicians to connect and an essential tool for any practice that wants to meet high quality of care standards.
Every Health Care Practice Needs Electronic Communication With Patients
The widespread adoption of digital technology is a significant benefit for both health care providers and patients. Although the health care industry has needed to meet stringent privacy and security requirements to protect patient safety and electronic health records, today’s PRM solutions offer medical practices all the features they require to stay connected with patients.
The most advanced PRM solutions help providers institute processes that improve use of electronic communication with patients every day. With an intuitive and user-friendly PRM system, you won’t need to depend on information technology experts to communicate electronically with patients. Instead, your clinical professional can incorporate electronic outreach into daily routines. At the same time, your operational team can establish automated communications to eliminate many burdensome tasks.
Although electronic communications is clearly the way forward in the medical field, some practices are lagging behind. As electronic communications become the norm in every field, health care providers must embrace this shift. Soon, practices that are using electronic communication for patients will earn stature as the recognized leaders in the medical field. Those practices and clinics that don’t keep pace will put themselves at risk of diminished patient satisfaction.
The time is now to adopt electronic communications with your patients. By embracing the use of electronic outreach, your health care practice can distinguish itself as an innovator committed to a high standard of excellence and patient care. Adopting a PRM solution that lets your office communicate electronically with patients is an essential step forward for every care provider.