Fun fact: 88 percent of patients want healthcare providers to communicate with them by texting outside of in-person appointments. And yet, more than half of patients (51%) say their providers either do not use text messages to communicate, or they do a fair or poor job of offering this type of communication. This is one of many examples of how providers’ communication efforts are misaligned with patients’ communication preferences. An analysis of West survey results revealed ten ways patients want healthcare providers to communicate with them. When comparing what patients say they want from healthcare providers vs. what providers are delivering, it is clear there are disconnects in patient-provider communications.
Patients want providers to initiate communications that support routine care, chronic disease management and clarity around billing. However, survey findings show patients’ communication wishes often go unfulfilled.
Here are three examples that highlight opportunities providers have to improve patient-provider communications focused on routine care and prevention.
- Providers can encourage and support healthy behaviors with automated communications.
Eighty-eight percent of patients want healthcare providers to send them automated communications – such as text, voice or email reminders – to encourage them to take actions to improve their health. This could include a text reminder to take medication, a voice message encouraging patients to walk 10,000 steps to meet their daily physical activity goal or an email invitation to attend a community wellness event focused on nutrition. Currently, nearly one-third (31%) of providers say they don’t send patients automated messages to encourage them to practice health maintenance, or they could do better in this area.
- Providers can make a greater effort to reach out with recommendations for preventive services.
Seventy-one percent of Americans say it is extremely or very important for healthcare providers to proactively recommend preventive services. However, according to patients, 36 percent of providers aren’t doing this, or they aren’t doing it well. The value of preventive care is clear. Unfortunately, a lot of Americans don’t take advantage of the preventive services that are available to them. A text message alerting a patient that he is due for a cholesterol screening, a voice message inviting patients who regularly use tobacco to learn about a smoking cessation program and an email outlining the timeline for when a diabetic patient should receive routine foot and eye exams are examples of communications providers can deliver to recommend preventive services. Providers who have sent preventive care communications have been able to successfully drive increased use of mammograms, colorectal screenings, immunizations and other preventive services.
- Providers can deliver peace of mind by updating patients about the status of lab results.
More than three in four patients (77%) feel strongly that it is important for their healthcare provider to clearly communicate about the status of lab results. However, 12 percent of patients say their providers do not do this, and 28 percent say providers do a fair or poor job of helping them with their lab results. Providers know that it can be difficult for patients to wait when they are unsure when and how lab results will be shared. That’s one reason 83 percent of healthcare providers want their patients to have the ability to track lab results similar to how they can track a package. To minimize anxiety, healthcare providers can send patients messages to let them know where in the process lab tests are, or that they can retrieve their results by calling the office or signing in to a health portal.
The takeaway? There are many opportunities for providers to easily expand how they communicate and support patients outside of in-person visits. Watch for more tips in our next blog post that discusses how providers can use automated communications to support chronic disease management. In the meantime, you’re invited to download our 10 Ways to Fulfill Patients’ Communication Wish List white paper.