5 Keys to Embracing a Competitive World

Welcome back! This is part 2 of a 2 part series on consumerization and personalization in healthcare.
Click here to read part 1.

In last week’s blog post, I touched on the current trend of consolidation needed for private practices to survive in the increasingly hostile healthcare market. What can you do to embrace to make your practice more competitive?

In a Consumer’s World, Personalization is Key

Doctors are reviewed alongside the local car mechanic by prospective patients on Yelp; we’re learning that convenience is key and patients are willing to pay for it. Primary physicians have taken the brunt of it with patients who see themselves more as consumers.

Here are 5 key ‘hows’ to make your patients’ experience more personal starting today:

1. Use Actionable Automated Appointment Reminders
Automated appointment reminders are trending in medicine, yet many practices still have yet to adopt them. Staff phone call reminders are a great personalized experience but can clog workflow. I suggest an automated reminder service which allows for texting. Also, ensure your reminder provider allows patients to confirm the appointment. Studies have shown that appointment reminders alone do not reduce no-shows. If a patient can’t respond to the reminder to cancel, you’re no wiser as to if they’ll show up.

Why Text Messages?

Many of the automated reminder services rely on automated robotic voice reminders that are often ignored when the patient does not recognize the phone number. Eighty percent of patients express wanting to receive reminders via text and 90% of text messages are read in the first 3 minutes.

2. Manage an Actionable Waitlist
Patients will cancel appointments. Unknown fact: the majority of no-show patients knew in advance that they would not show. Often, when appointments are scheduled out far in advance, patients are unable to predict work and life schedules, and end up deciding the week of that they’ll be missing an appointment.

What if you had a mechanism to identify no-shows? Luma Health detects cancellations, creates a smart waitlist, and fills vacancies. If your staff is spending too much time on scheduling, explore an option like Luma Health to see if it’s a good fit for your practice. Offering a more personalized patient experience by notifying patients of earlier appointment slots builds loyalty and satisfaction.

3. Increase Convenience of Pre-Appointment Education
Patients are more engaged when they know what to expect. Verbal phone reminders can be a challenge to remember. Targeted online information is a start, but patients are left alone to sort through non-applicable information on your practice’s website. Convenient? No.

This simplest, most convenient solution is a reference link in the appointment reminder text or email (you can even include copay info). Surprises in healthcare are the last thing your patient wants before their visit.

4. Give Accessible Image Options
Patients want access to their images. In the digital world, hard copies are unpractical. New vendors such as lifeImage, DicomGrid, or the Image Share project from RSNA offer easy options.
5. Establish a Patient Portal for Scheduling
Your patients are used to scheduling everything online and new options like One Medical are meeting the consumers demand. Look into online scheduling options for your practice. Many are offered through your current EMR’s or third party services.

Alleviate the nuisance of scheduling over the phone and reduce the staff time spent on scheduling.

Remember, a more personal, customized experience = happy patients.

Happy, healthy patients = returning patients (and better reviews).

We at Luma Health would love to hear what other ideas practices have implemented to embrace a more value-based market. Share your stories with me on Twitter at @TashfeenEkramMD.

Tashfeen Ekram, MD, is a radiologist, self-taught coder, healthcare innovator and Co-Founder of Luma Health. Contact him on Twitter at @tashfeenekramMD.

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