When it comes to managing a successful practice, effective patient engagement and communication are paramount. It’s impossible to run a practice—let alone build meaningful doctor-patient relationships—if you’re unable to reach and engage patients.
In most cases, reaching patients isn’t difficult, especially if you employ a patient-centered approach to communicating with them. However, there are patients who, despite even the best of efforts, are still difficult to get in touch with.
While communicating with hard-to-reach patients is certainly a challenging endeavor, it’s also one that’s worth pursuing. Not only does engaging these patients lead to better patient care, but ensuring you stay connected with these patients also improves your retention rate, and, thus, your bottom line.
Read on for a look at four essentials for reaching and engaging hard-to-reach patients.
Patient Engagement Essentials for Hard-to-Reach Patients
Whether you’re reaching out to schedule an appointment, communicate important information, or follow up on an appointment, efficient patient communication is key. Overall, the process needs to be user-friendly and easy for both providers and patients.
With this in mind, patient-centered communication, focused on meeting patients’ different needs, is essential. By taking this approach, even the most difficult-to-reach patients are significantly more likely to communicate with the practice, provide valuable feedback, and keep coming back for care.
Engaging patients—particularly those who are hard to get in touch with—requires the following:
- employing multimodal communication
- reaching out via patients’ preferred communication methods
- customizing the delivery of messages to meet patients’ needs
- ensuring patients can easily connect with your practice
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
Different Communication Methods & Preferences
With the technological advances of today, there are a number of ways to reach patients. Some prefer to receive emails, while others may prefer to receive text messages or phone calls.
Because of this, it’s essential to offer a variety of methods for patients to be reached. Engaging patients via their preferred communication method is crucial, as this increases patients’ likelihood of keeping their appointments by up to five times.
Each appointment reminder channel or type has its advantages and a place in a successful patient engagement and communication strategy:
- Email—Though not ideal for urgent matters, email is a great tool for delivering meaningful content and expressing the voice of the practice.
- Text message—Short and sweet, texts are timely and effective—and the most popular appointment reminder type. Texts easily allow you to deliver reminders during business hours so that your staff can quickly respond to any questions or requests that patients may have.
- Interactive voice recording (IVR)—Voice calls are still useful, even if used as a last resort. For some patients, voice calls are the only way to reach them.
The ability to text, in particular, with patients is becoming increasingly important. Text messages have been shown to be a more efficient method of sending patient reminders.
According to a recent report, text-message open rates exceeded 99 percent. Even more notable is the fact that 90 percent of all text messages are read within 3 minutes of being received.
At Vital Interaction™, we provide practices with the ability to reach out to their patients via email, text, and IVR messages to ensure patients are contacted via their preferred method of communication. Our two-way texting feature, in particular, allows practices to have real-time conversation with patients without having to talk on the phone. This is an especially important tool to have when keeping in touch with hard-to-reach patients.
Vital Interaction™ makes it easy to customize patients’ communication preferences. Our customers are able to simply select the best communication method and time of day to reach out to each patient.
Our system can also be used to include patient satisfaction surveys in email messages, which is a great way to gauge how patients feel about their experience with your practice. Surveys also show patients you’re listening and their opinions are valued, resulting in continued patient engagement.
An underrated aspect of patient communication, ease-of-use can be key in gaining patient responses.
Think about this: Would you be more likely to respond to a message that requires you to open an app or browser and enter a password or a message that simply requires a text or a click of a button?
Measuring Your Patient Engagement Efforts
When working toward any goal, it’s vital to be able to monitor and measure your progress. Otherwise, how can you know whether you’re on target?
To keep track of your patient engagement efforts, our Automatic Patient Interaction System enables you to measure both patient no-show rates as well as recall success rates.
Our analyses and reports illustrate the positive impact that reaching out to your patients via their preferred method of communication can have on your no-show and retention rates, and ultimately your bottom line.
By employing multiple communication methods, practices can effectively reduce their no-show rates by up to 30 percent while saving their staff time.
Patient Engagement & Hard-to-Reach Patients: The Bottom Line
By simply taking into account patients’ different communication needs and preferences, practices we work with have been able to achieve enhanced communication, increased patient engagement, reduced no-show rates, and improved retention.
While communicating with hard-to-reach patients is certainly a challenging endeavor, it’s one that’s worth pursuing.
By optimizing your approach to meet the lifestyle and needs of these patients you are indicating that your practice is patient-centered. As a result, hard-to-reach patients are significantly more likely to communicate, offer valuable feedback, and stick with your practice for years to come.
Does your patient communication system measure up? We can show you how this patient-centered scheduling system would benefit your practice and your patients. Get started today by visiting VitalInteraction.com or calling (512) 487-7625.