Effectively Manage Patients
APRIL JASPER, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Retain and attract patients by using contact management systems.
While we do an excellent job of diagnosing and treating eye disease, many of us forget about the importance of managing patients after they have left the office. The good news: The development of several patient contact management systems has assisted us with the task of communicating with our patients.
Here, I discuss the benefits of contact management systems for optometric practices.
1 Patient retention
Text or e-mail reminders to our patients can significantly reduce the number of no-shows, which are often the result of simple forgetfulness. They can be set up to be sent automatically at any time. In my practice, I have this set to remind patients the day before as well as two hours before the appointment time.
E-mail newsletters are a wonderful way to stay in contact throughout the year with our patients. Each newsletter can have call-to-action buttons embedded within to refer a friend or schedule an appointment.
E-mail or texting information regarding promotions, such as trunk shows, can enhance the success of these initiatives as well and increase patient retention.
2 Patient acquisition
Through patient contact management systems, you can embed patient testimonials, practice videos and refer-a-friend action buttons into e-mail communications to enhance the ability to attract new patients. Also, many of these systems have mapping features to show the practice where its new patients are located to help with future marketing.
3 Patient reactivation
Patient contact systems search for patients who have not visited the practice lately, then actively e-mail these patients to bring them back to the practice. This reactivation process is also automatic and can be customized for each practice to the duration you choose (e.g. three years between appointments). Pre-written or custom messages can be created, and you should always include an action button so patients can make appointments immediately.
4 Practice reviews
Many new patients are very interested in practice reviews others have posted. These systems have the ability to help obtain reviews and post them on your website, your Facebook page, Google, Yelp and more. If our patients are not given a way, by us, to provide feedback to our office, they will find a way that may be very detrimental to the practice.
5 Social media
Patient communication systems allow the management and posting of social media within the system, making it fast and easy to post new messages. They allow you to post updates, promotions, announcements and other communications to sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, from a central location. Also, patients can schedule an appointment within the social media site using specially created applications from your patient communication system.
Look into patient contact systems. It is vitally important for the financial health of our practices that we find ways to retain and attract patients, and it takes only one new patient a month to pay your cost for these systems. OM
DR. JASPER IS IN PRIVATE PRACTICE IN WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. E-MAIL HER AT DRJASPER@AESWPB.COM, OR SEND COMMENTS TO OPTOMETRICMANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.