Creating a great patient experience begins and ends with great communication. Unfortunately, too many physicians believe communication with a patient begins when they enter their practice and ends when they walk out the door. However, that’s far from the truth. In today’s technology-driven world, patients expect the ability to communicate with their doctors to be easily accessible and always available.
To stay competitive, practices must offer a great patient experience, as well as excellent patient care. This begins before your patient ever enters your door and it continues well after they’ve left. So, how can you take your patient communication to the next level? Here are 4 ways we’ve seen our customers successfully establish better communication with their patients …
1. Notification of Delays
We’re all too busy with little time to spare. So, making patients sit in the waiting room for extended periods of time because appointments are running behind is an easy way to create stress and a less than great patient experience.
One way to foster great communication with your patients (and keep them happy) is to notify them when there are delays. If clinic appointments are running behind, give your afternoon patients a heads up, so they’re prepared for a longer than expected wait time before they arrive. This gives you the opportunity to make the patient experience even better before and during the appointment. It also lets the patient know that you value his/her time.
2. Pre-Appointment Confirmations & Reminders
First impressions really are everything. Get the conversation started before your patient even arrives. It’s a crazy, busy world. Patients are busy and often miss appointments due to frequent changes in their schedules or work/family needs. So, the patient ends up having to wait even longer to see the physician and your practice winds up with sky-high no-show rates. It’s a lose-lose scenario. But there’s an easy solution!
Send patients a friendly reminder. It’s so easy to overlook an appointment you scheduled months or weeks in advance. Sending a reminder a week or two in advance gives the patients a heads up to add the appointment to their calendar or it gives them the opportunity to cancel and re-schedule, if they need to. This gives you the opportunity to plan your schedule more accurately and fill empty appointment slots ahead of time. It’s a win-win for everyone! Plus, you’ve created more value for your patient, leading to a much greater overall patient experience and patient satisfaction.
See how well our Appointment Reminder Service text messages worked for this Luma Health customer.
3. Post-Appointment Follow-Up
Communication doesn’t have to end when your patient walks out the door. Check in with them following their appointment and find out if they have any lingering questions. A significant number of patients find it difficult to clearly remember treatment instructions and information they receive during appointments anyways. So, an after-appointment follow-up gives you the opportunity to ensure the patient is fully educated on their diagnosis and treatment instructions and/or any other information they may have received during their appointment.
A post-appointment follow-up also gives you the chance to provide the patient with additional educational material relevant to his/her appointment. Make sure they feel comfortable and informed. In doing so, you’re creating a lot of value for your patients and are fostering the patient-doctor relationship, while also creating a great patient experience
4. Schedule Consultation Reminders
We’ve heard time and time again that practices waste too much time calling patients to schedule referral consultations. Phone calls are time consuming and many patients don’t even follow through. You can increase patient consults from referrals with one simple change – the way you’re communicating with patients. Rather than phone calls, communicate better with referral patients via text messaging.
With text messaging, customer response increases significantly and you can automate the process, saving you time. With our Referral Management product, rather than a patient receiving a phone call at an inconvenient time, patients receive a text message and are able to respond at their own convenience. Sometimes great communication isn’t just about timing; it’s also about the method.
See how this Luma Health customer freed up two hours of staff time each day from phone calls and converted 91% of incoming referrals after implementing our Referral Management product.
Communicating better with your patients takes a little extra time and effort, but the increased patient satisfaction and patient care is worth it for your practice. These 4 key ways to better communicate with patients are easier to implement than you think. The best way to do all of these things? Communicate with your patients how they like to be communicated with and when they are available: via text messaging.
At Luma Health, we believe in automating your communication with patients to create a better overall patient experience that saves you time and makes you money. If you’re interested in offering automated waitlists, cancellation management, appointment confirmation texts, referral management, patient recall, and more, get started with Luma Health today!
Tashfeen Ekram, MD, is a radiologist, self-taught coder, healthcare innovator and Co-Founder of Luma Health. Contact him on Twitter at @tashfeenekramMD.