Long gone are the days when we only used our cell phones to simply just call someone. Now, we’re engaging in far more sophisticated activities with our smart phones — like online shopping or making reservations.
As patients continue to use consumer technology, they’re increasingly expecting a healthcare experience that mimics one they have with Amazon Prime, where care is right at their fingertips and they receive immediate responses. In an ideal world, patients want to make appointments quickly, ask for advice by texting with their doctors and check physician-ratings sites to find the best doctor for their needs.
Now, patients’ digital consumer experiences impact their perception of their healthcare.
This shift in expectation represents a challenge, and an opportunity, for physicians who can’t afford to lose their existing clients or fail to establish meaningful, everlasting connections with new patients.
Therefore, providers need to think strategically about building long-term relationships by personalizing their patient engagement and outreach efforts. Implementing a patient relationship management (PRM) strategy, which relies on the use of simple, yet sophisticated, technology tools to facilitate a positive and personalized experience, is key to accomplishing this.
Implementing PRM into Your Practice One Step at a Time
Improving PRM is a strategic initiative. To succeed in implementing PRM strategies, practices must use techniques and tools to enhance the patient experience, like smart appointment reminders, scheduling applications and personalized communication options.
While this sounds simple, it’s sometimes easier said than done. The idea of implementing additional technology tools to enhance the patient experience can be seen as a costly and cumbersome undertaking.
Healthcare providers will be relieved to know that implementing PRM doesn’t have to mean overhauling an entire business. A practice can begin its PRM slowly, working to build a PRM program to help them sustain long-term relationships with their patients.
Here are a few easy steps your practice can take to start standing up a PRM approach:
- Text-enable the landline phone system. Take ten minutes to enable your landline to be able to send and receive text messages. This will allow for your administrative staff and patients to communicate with each other more efficiently through text messages.
- Set up an appointment-reminder and self-scheduling system. Modern PRM tools are equipped with scheduling applications that work on top of a practice management system to send patients appointment reminders, as well as offer patients to schedule a visit by clicking a link that you can send via email or text. By catering to patient communication and scheduling preferences, practices can improve satisfaction and the likelihood the patient will stay long-term.
- Put together an email newsletter. Using newsletter templates within a PRM tool helps practices share personalized news and information with their patients. The more targeted your messaging is, the more likely you are to get your patient’s attention in a crowded inbox. A practice can use its PRM tool’s filtering command to sort its patient population by age, gender, disease type or other demographics when sending specific messages.
- Connect through social media. Having a social media presence is a must for any practice that wants to attract patients, especially millennials. Launching a Facebook page or Twitter account allows you to engage with patients by posting information about your practice or links to helpful resources. Facebook is particularly useful because it offers patients the opportunity to rate your business and post comments, which you then have the option to share with the public.
You’ve Implemented PRM. Now What?
When working to build a PRM program, using strategies like those mentioned above, practices should consider its long-term goals. For example, does the practice want to do a better job of reaching high-risk patients? Does it want to solidify itself as a provider in its community? Or, does it want to establish itself as a tech-savvy organization where patients can schedule appointments at their convenience, receive timely care and reach the physicians by email?
Once a practice is focused on its end game, leveraging PRM tools with the goal of establishing everlasting relationships is much easier.
Let’s say a practice wants to do a better job of enhancing the health of its aging patients by bringing them in for bone-density screenings and bone-health programs. The practice could begin using a marketing campaign. These campaign touchpoints could include a balance of educational information and service marketing, such as:
- A “doctor’s note” that discusses the link between age and osteoporosis
- Links to relevant medical information sites
- Incentives, like a point system where patients are given points for each time they come in for a wellness visit, which could be used towards local retail goods
The practice could schedule the e-newsletter for delivery to all patients in the desired age range. As a final touch, the practice could offer a link within the e-newsletter for patients who want to schedule an appointment, which would bring them to a separate web-based portal. By doing this, a patient can easily schedule a screening and sync it to their smartphone calendar without interrupting their day.
After running the campaign for the desired timeframe, a practice can analyze the data to see what’s most effective. By measuring results on an ongoing basis, practices can continue to tailor their efforts to engage with their patients.
Continuing to Maximize the Impact of PRM
Patient relationship management is all about personalizing outreach and tailoring it to patients’ needs. Patients today are tech savvy and prefer personalization and convenience.
Increasing your number of long-term patients won’t happen overnight, but by starting with small efforts and gradually increasing the use of PRM tools over time, your practice will show your patients that it is ready to engage with them, offer value and put their satisfaction and care first. As more patients realize this, potential new patients will catch on — and latch on — for the long-term.