By Brian Maguire, RavePoint
When you open your browser and search for your practice’s online reviews, what do you see?
Hopefully many five-star reviews.
Likewise, are your inboxes and phone lines jammed? Are you being flooded with requests for care from new patients and referrals? If there’s so much activity at your practice that you’re considering opening an additional location, you’ve made the most of your relationships with patients. These relationships are crucial to the success of your practice.
These relationships also are a result of effective interaction and communication with those served by the practice, as witnessed by their engagement with it and their sentiment toward it.
If yours is one of the nearly 99 percent of practices that don’t experience these outcomes, you may be contemplating ways in which you can keep existing patients while encouraging them to leave quality reviews, provide referrals and interact with the practice.
This is where data lives.
Data is the reason your practice should be a voracious (legal and ethical) collector of data you’re your patients.
Patient data collection is more than care-related information. Patient data matters to your practice; and can be as granular as to how a specific patient wants to be contacted when they are due for an appointment, and other feedback they have offered.
This kind of data allows a practice to make better decisions, see the bigger picture of their business’ services and offerings, understand facility and practitioner performance, and adjust to patient needs. This is where patient relationship management (PRM) software can help drive these conversations and collect information provided by patients.
Patient relationship management software differs substantially from customer relationship management systems. A PRM product aids a practice in many ways:
- It organizes patient data from a variety of software, databases, and sources
- It makes communication with the patient more efficient
- It supports patient outreach
- It encourages and captures patient feedback
- It integrates seamlessly with relevant third-party engagement applications
Practices can automate processes, such as scheduling, patient notification reminders, waitlist management, and filling schedule slots opened by last-minute cancellations by using effective PRM software.
The main form of patient outreach used to be a phone call and a message left on an answering machine. However, one survey of almost 14,000 patients found that about half of patients want appointment reminders sent via a text message, so calls and voicemails are antiquated for many. The same survey also reported that more than 20 percent of patients want to receive an email reminder about an appointment.
The scope of the communication issue is made clear in a 2019 report from Physician Leaders stating that most physicians see around 20 patients each day. The report also noted that the average practice has a patient population of between 1,800 and 2,000 patients.
In terms of practice scheduling, PRM software encourages practices to create a patient-centered outreach strategy that might include reminders, education, and more.
As mentioned above, cancellations are another issue with which every practice wrestles. Typically, if a patient cancels on a same-day appointment, it is much more efficient for the practice’s scheduling coordinator to open the practice management program, access the PRM software, and send texts immediately to patients whose immediate-appointment requests are registered in the software.
This allows the practice’s revenue drivers (its practitioners) to focus on what they do best -- taking care of patients and also allows practice staff to focus on their practice-building tasks rather than having to interrupt their activities to fill a schedule slot.
Around 7 percent of patients will find a different healthcare provider if they aren’t satisfied with their care or some other aspect of their experience at an office. If the practice has 2,000 patients, that’s 140 patients that may leave each year. And when those patients leave, there is time and expense in administration and in marketing -- just to stay at the same level the practice was at previously.
Patient relationship management software can help a busy practice understand patient satisfaction and build better relationships with patients. The robust patient-satisfaction measurement tools found in PRM programs allow patients an opportunity to comment on a practice’s standard of care, from the doctor’s patient-communication skills to an office’s communication and front-desk performance.
As an example, a practice can use its PRM software to develop a short survey for its patients. The practice might want to know about a new provider in the office, the front-desk experience, what new services the practice should consider adding, and more.
These feedback/input opportunities offer another method for two-way communication between patients and a practice. When patients feel connected to a practice, they may be more likely to be engaged with their healthcare and perhaps more willing to consider treatment proposals.
For instance, if a practice is sending out health tips via text or in a patient newsletter, patients who feel a connection with the practice and provider may be more compliant with daily health suggestions, like flossing or measuring insulin.
These patients may also be more likely to continue with a practice rather than seeking a new healthcare home. Other factors influence this decision, of course, such as insurance and cost, but the more of an attachment a patient has with a practice, the more difficult it is to walk away.
What this tells us is that creating a partnership between the practice and its patients is crucial. Patient relationship management software that can help a practice better engage within a robust program to create patient partnerships.
And the real benefits of a partnership are illustrated by the success of both parties. When you put new abilities and resources to work in a practice, the results include healthier patients, more customers, increased revenue, and greater profitability.
About The Author
Brian McGuire is the CEO of RavePoint, whose market-leading patient relationship management platform helps more than healthcare organizations automate the perpetual processes of keeping their schedules full and patients notified.