The following is a guest article by Brian Maguire, CEO at RavePoint.
As countless medical practices continue to struggle in the wake of COVID and some remain concerned about how they’re going to survive, let alone thrive as they move forward with seeing patients and growing their practices, leading practices understand that growing their practices, even now in the changed environment, there remain some strategies that are vital to success going forward.
When you go on line to read reviews of your practice, do you find lots of five-star reviews? Are your inboxes and phone lines jammed? Are you being flooded with requests from new patients and referrals?
If your practice is so busy that you’re considering opening another location (or more), you’ve made the most of your patient relationships. They are, after all, essential to your success, and they result directly from effective interaction.
If yours is one of the nearly 99% of practices that don’t experience these outcomes, you might be contemplating ways to keep your existing patients, while also compelling them to leave positive reviews, provide referrals, and interact with your practice.
This is where data lives, and your practice should collect its patients’ data voraciously, ethically, and legally.
Patient-data collection is more than care-related information; it matters to your practice. It can be as granular as how a specific patient wants to be contacted when an appointment is due, along with other preferences they’ve provided.
This kind of data allows a practice to make better decisions, see the bigger picture of its services and offerings, understand facility and practitioner performance, and adjust to patients’ needs. Patient-relationship management (PRM) software can help drive these conversations and collect data provided by your patients.
PRM software differs substantially from customer-relationship management systems. A PRM product:
- organizes patient data from a variety of software, databases, and sources;
- streamlines communication with patients;
- supports patient outreach;
- encourages and captures patient feedback; and
- integrates seamlessly with relevant third-party engagement applications.
With effective PRM software, practices can automate processes, such as scheduling, patient-notification reminders, waitlist management, and filling slots opened by last-minute cancellations.
The main form of patient outreach used to be a phone call and/or a message left on an answering machine. However, one survey of almost 14,000 patients found that about 50% of patients now want appointment reminders sent via text message, rendering phone calls antiquated for many. The same survey also reported that more than 20% of patients want to receive an email reminder for 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.
For appointment scheduling, PRM software encourages practices to create a patient-centered outreach strategy that might include reminders, education, and more.
Cancellations cause angst for any practice. Typically, if a patient cancels on a same-day appointment, it is much more efficient for the practice’s scheduling coordinator to 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: caring for patients. And it allows the staff to focus on their practice-building tasks rather than interrupting their tasks to fill a schedule slot.
Around 7% of patients will find a different healthcare provider if they aren’t satisfied with their care or some other aspect of their experience at a practice. If the practice has 2,000 patients, that’s 140 patients who might leave each year. Their departure costs the practice time and the expense of administration and in marketing, just to keep the practice operating at the same level.
PRM software can help a busy practice understand patient satisfaction and build better relationships. 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 bedside manner to the practice’s front-desk performance.
For 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 quality of communication with the practice, what new services the practice should consider adding, and more.
These feedback opportunities offer another method for communication between the patient and the practice. When patients feel connected to and genuinely cared for by a practice, they might be more engaged with their healthcare and 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 the provider might be more compliant with daily health regimens such as flossing or measuring insulin.
These patients might also be more likely to continue with a practice rather than choosing a different one. Other factors influence this decision, of course, such as insurance and cost; however, the stronger the patient-practice relationship, the more likely the patient is to stay.
Creating and maintaining a strong partnership between the practice and its patients is crucial, and PRM software can help. The real benefits of such 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 patients, increased revenue, and greater profitability.
About Brian MaGuire
Brian MaGuire is the CEO of RavePoint, whose market-leading patient relationship management platform helps more than 600 healthcare organizations automate the perpetual processes of keeping their schedules full and their patients notified, while improving the total healthcare experience of more than 8 million patients.