Exceptional service, which creates patient loyalty and referrals, does not have to come at the cost of operational efficiency, but it can certainly seem that way. Consider this: An appointment-reminder call takes about three minutes; a call letting a patient know his glasses have come in takes roughly two minutes; a reminder call about a contact lens follow-up appointment takes about three minutes; and a call making a patient aware his contact lenses have arrived takes roughly three minutes. In total, that’s 11 minutes, which can really add up. What’s more, this is just a sample of what staff and a practice do to make a patient’s visit positively memorable. The good news: Patient communication technology is now available to increase operational efficiency. Further, this software is valued by patients, as it’s made their practice experiences even more enjoyable.
Here, I discuss the benefits of this technology.
AUTOMATIC MESSAGE DELIVERY
Instead of personal calls by staff to remind patients of their appointments, an automatic message is delivered to the patient by patient communication technologies. This occurs once a patient is scheduled for an appointment through these technologies. When the appointment is confirmed, the EHR is automatically updated, so practices know the patient has been notified.
Additionally, when glasses and contact lenses are ordered, and they arrive at the practice and are checked into the technology, a notification message is sent to the patient.
Finally, this feature eliminates mail appointment recall, facilitating the process and eliminating the associated cost.
AUTOMATED PATIENT EDUCATION
There are opportunities outside the office visit to help educate your patients regarding the services that your office provides. Specifically, many of these technologies provide email education on ocular conditions and how your office provides aid for them.
As an example, an educational initiative on dry eye disease is well complemented by a call to action for the patient to contact your office for further information on which treatment may be right for them. This engages the patient, so that he is educated about the process prior to coming to the office for the visit.
Additionally, anatomically correct eye and eye-related images relative to specific ocular conditions are available to facilitate the patient education process.
CALL TRACKING DATA
Interested in improving your practice’s quality of service and tracking the success of your one or more marketing campaigns? Patient communication technologies can provide customer insights and let you know what, specifically, is prompting calls to your office, so that patients can be retained and the practice grows. Additionally, phone calls can be recorded so the quality of the conversation with the patient can be reviewed.
Many of these technologies enable the creation of customized newsletters via easy-to-use templates, so patients can be made aware of the latest services and promotions offered by your practice without disrupting operations.
The ability to schedule an appointment 24/7 is a convenience your patients will greatly appreciate, as the day can get away from them, due to work and family obligations, among other issues. The self-scheduling provided by patient management technologies can create patient loyalty.
With some of these technologies, staff can see who is calling, enabling them to electronically access patient information before even picking up the phone. This means they can peruse the patient’s demographic information to let them know of any products or services that might interest them, inquire about their family members by name and ask about any outstanding balances. All this information is right in front of them. These technologies immediately present this information without the need to be in the patient’s actual chart.
Many patients are so used to texting information and receiving information via text that they expect this from the entities they interact with, including our offices. Several of the patient communication technologies offer the ability to text patients in real time, along with receiving text messages from them. This provides an additional method in which to interact with our patients.
Patient Communication Technology*
→ WebSystems 3
* See the online version of this article for updates to the listing of patient communication systems.
Often times, appointments are made based on referrals from friends, typically communicating face-to-face. That said, appointments are also made based on social media conversations and online outlets that provide ratings.
Patient communication technologies offer you the ability to query your patients about their experiences in your practice. This can then be placed online, improve your practice’s online ratings and, thus, create additional patients.
NO MORE SACRIFICE
Sacrificing operational efficiencies on the altar of exceptional service is no longer necessary. Patient communication technologies save practices’ time for other worthwhile endeavors, such as scheduling additional patients in need of care, they also provide tremendous opportunities for practices to interact with patients on a more convenient and, often, personal level. OM