How proactive outreach can get patients back into your practice – for their health and your business.
One of the many challenges that COVID-19 brought to healthcare is an apprehension and fear for patients of how to safely get care when it’s needed. Study after study shows that patients are delaying healthcare - avoiding routine visits, not addressing chronic issues or putting off needed care until conditions are exacerbated. That not only impacts their overall health but a practice’s financial health too. Just like a well-oiled machine needs that oil to keep things flowing, a well-run practice needs a steady stream of patients. Those encounters are essential for improved outcomes and better health across the board but also benefit the practice’s fiscal bottom line and ensure workflows run smoothly, without stops and starts that cause backlog and work to pile up.
While it may seem daunting to deliver communications to remind patients to get their necessary care, new tech solutions actually make that process easier and more efficient than ever. Options for virtual care can help practices proactively engage patients in their care, get them to appointments, keep them informed and promote adherence for improved outcomes. Implementing solutions in a meaningful, strategic way is critical to the long-term success of healthcare practices and improved health outcomes for patients. Using these solutions creates a proactive outreach that gets patients in the doors for the care they need in a way that is manageable for staff:
Appointment Reminders – No-shows cost money – up to $200 per missed visit – not just the dollars lost on the actual missed appointment but also the time spent on the backlog they cause. Start sending reminders two weeks prior to the appointment to allow patients to secure childcare or block time on their work schedules. You can also use the reminder to prep the patient for what is required as part of their appointment. Do they need to complete a form, bring in any material, fast for a certain number of hours?
According to a Journal of Family Medicine and Disease Prevention study, the top three reasons for patients missing their appointments were they forgot, had a personal or work issue or there was an issue with transportation. Sending reminders early allows patients time to address those issues that might keep them from arriving at the practice on time.
SMS and Secure Texting – Whether SMS or HIPAA-compliant Secure methods, text messaging is a great way to engage patients, quickly answer questions, send a reminder or drop a nudge to encourage adherence. In this era of robo-calls, most of us don’t answer the phone any longer but 97% of us will respond to a text within three minutes of receipt. Communication can be done quickly and easily without burdening staff with the back and forth of phone calls and voicemails.
Text is great for sending electronic forms that patients can complete prior to their appointment or collecting insurance cards or other updated demographic information. It’s also a key part of a contactless check-in process that maximizes safety and efficiency.
Broadcast – Whether you need to email all your patients or a targeted group, a broadcast messaging tool lets you create one message and send it to hundreds groups of patients via text, email or patient portal without overwhelming staff. You can message all of your patients or segment groups based on demographics or diagnosis to ensure patients stay on track for treatment and are aware of the latest services or information you can provide.
It’s another great, proactive tool to nudge patients due for an annual appointment or target those who have disease-specific follow-up needs, such as blood pressure check or medication management. Broadcast helps practices keep patients engaged between visits and updated about practice events such as annual and sports physicals, to immunizations and back-to-school checkups.
Broadcast also works well for sending COVID vaccine information to patients. Whether or not your team is actively distributing vaccines, this tool can help proactively answer patient questions and share important information about the vaccine and COVID-19 developments. In fact, a recent study showed 87% of Americans say they want to receive information from their healthcare provider on COVID-19 vaccine related news/updates, with their healthcare providers cited as the most trusted source on the topic.
Telehealth – Whether weather impacts your ability to be in your practice, the physician isn’t able to be in the office or the patient isn’t able or isn’t comfortable coming to the practice, in most instances care can still be delivered. Telehealth offers a HIPAA-compliant way to easily connect with patients, document the interaction for reimbursement and ensure patients have access to care.
Patients also prefer telehealth, as 65% say telehealth visits are more convenient than in-office appointments. Telehealth lets practices offer patients more access to secure and quality healthcare from the comfort of their own homes, further improving health outcomes and lowering costs.
Another benefit is fewer no-shows for telehealth visits, supported by being more convenient for patients and alleviating concerns about transportation, childcare or work absenteeism. In fact, Garfield Health Center in Monterey Park, Calif, saw no-show rates drop to less than 5% for telehealth visits, versus their norm of 15-20% pre-pandemic, when they started using telehealth.
Let’s get patients back into your practice – for their health and your business. Learn more about Updox solutions that can help your practice keep schedules full.