The healthcare industry has been growing over the years. With this growth come many challenges as well. One of the challenges faced by many in the healthcare industry is effective patient communication and engagement.
What is Patient Engagement?
Patient engagement usually refers to doctor-to-patient communication, but good patient engagement is more than this. There are many other things that you can do to ensure your patients are engaged with you.
What Happens with Ineffective Patient Engagement?
Patient communication in most health systems today is manual or phone-based and not automated. While some healthcare providers utilize basic one-way texting to inform patients of appointments and so on, it is not enough to keep patients engaged. Most other healthcare providers deal with patient appointments and incoming specialist referrals via phone and call center.
Ineffective patient communication and engagement will almost always lead to poor patient care and experience and missed appointments, further leading to loss of revenue and high costs.
Automating patient communication with the right kind of technology and solutions is extremely important. Low automation will lead to high costs. Industry data shows healthcare providers spend $7 for each appointment scheduling and $25 for each referral. More importantly, no-shows and filling care gaps become a challenge and lead to significant revenue loss.
It is fairly easy to plan effective patient communication and understanding once you know what your patients expect from you. Most patients will expect ease of engagement through a digital platform, simple interaction methods with healthcare professionals and clinics, and the ability to do things by themselves whenever possible.
This brings us to the question: what are the main factors for patient engagement?
Communications with your patients should always be personalized, automated, and goal-driven. This can often be a challenge. Healthcare providers should leverage EHR data to overcome this challenge. The other problem is that none of the solutions deeply embed in Epic and make the communication actionable. Most systems still depend on phone calls for basic actions like rescheduling appointments, booking appointments, or notifying patients about their annual check-ups. Some systems will use emails and portals, which again are not the most convenient for patients due to the need to remember passwords and, again, add a cognitive burden on patients.
So, What Makes Patient Engagement Effective?
Any good patient engagement platform needs to have the following three requirements to be effective:
- It should be personalized and convenient – The platform should cater to individual patients and should not be generalized. It should be convenient to use for everyone and should not add layers to the communication process.
- It should be actionable – This is an important aspect of good patient communication and engagement. As discussed earlier, most patient communication systems are not actionable. The healthcare provider, as well as patients, should be able to use the system with ease and perform actions like rescheduling appointments or booking appointments.
- It should be a low burden on patients and staff – This should be the primary goal of any patient engagement platform. It must reduce the burden on both the staff and patients. Both parties should be able to rely on the platform to automatically handle simple tasks like appointment confirmations, reminders, and feedback.
How to Make Patient Communication Effective?
One of the best ways to improve patient communication and make it effective is through 2-way interactive texting. Almost all segments of the population use texting as a way of communication. More than 95% of adults use mobile phones. Text messaging is one of the most effective channels of communication. In fact, some studies show that 95% of text messages are read within 3 minutes of receipt.
Text messaging is one of the most effective ways to support healthcare providers and engage patients. Text messages can be used in different ways like scheduling appointments, rescheduling missed appointments, sending out appointment reminders, reminding patients about their upcoming check-ups, and so on.
Learn more about a powerful 1-way and 2-way broadcast capability that combines chatbot, SMS, and IVR. Get a demo here.