So maybe you’re a little less Forrest Gump, and a little more Willy Wonka. I can dig that.
In case you don’t know the Wonka story, there’s this recluse who owns a chocolate factory, and it’s run by natives from an exotic land known to us as Oompah Loompahs. And the story just gets stranger from there. But beyond the chocolate rivers and everlasting gobstoppers, we find that Willy Wonka is a great teacher of patient communication. Especially when we take his quotes completely out of context…
“There’s no earthly way of knowing which direction we are going.”
Wonka mumbles this when they’re on the boat in the tunnel with a crazed look in his eye. And it’s pretty scary. It’s also scary to think how many practices are unable to document their outreach to patients. Whether its appointment communications, calls for past due balances or any other patient contact efforts, there may come a day when you’ll want an audit trail of your outreach to each patient. Documenting your communications is extremely valuable to the practice.
“A small step for mankind, but a giant step for us.”
He just guided these guys through a psychedelic, technicolor thrill ride…and now everything’s calm again. If you’re on the fence about making changes to your patient communication strategy (adding more outreach efforts, bringing in an automated solution, etc.), that boat ride may be exactly what you’re picturing. Screams. High speeds. Total chaos. But just relax – it’s not nearly that bad, and once you’ve implemented the new strategy, you’ll appreciate the improvements in staff time, cost reduction and patient response. A small step for your vendor (they do this all the time), but a giant step for your practice.
“I’m a trifle deaf in this ear. Speak a little louder next time.”
That’s Wonka’s way of deflecting a question from Mike Teavee. But since we’re taking creative license with these quotes, we can remind you that confusing messages are worthless to a patient. If your patient calls are being handled by staff members, you might find them rushing through calls or leaving unclear voicemails when they don’t reach a live answer. Many practices are now outsourcing these calls to automated vendors, taking advantage of professional voice talent for message clarity. And there’s no hurry to get through the call list – it’s all being handled by the vendor. I promise there are no Oompah Loompahs.
“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.”
Deep stuff, Wonka. If you’re hosting fun events, tell your patients! Invite them to participate in your fall festivals and any other patient appreciation ideas your practice has cooked up. High participation makes other potential patients in your neighborhood or community more likely to notice. Having some fun and spreading the word is a great way to generate buzz and build your business! Have you considered hosting a contest where patients have to find golden tickets? I know a guy who had some success with that.
“So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
First, he ripped off Neil Armstrong (see above). And now Shakespeare? This Wonka guy has some nerve. But this helps us remember the core purpose behind your communication with patients – guiding them toward overall health. All of the appointment reminders, wellness messages and recall/recare communications are truly helping patients. Don’t be hesitant to reach out to them for those reasons. For even better results, go beyond a simple phone call or postcard. Send emails. Send text messages. Frequent communication will keep patients engaged in their ongoing health, and that’s what it’s all about.