The pandemic has increased our dependence on technology and has forced many organizations to review how technology plays an important role in how they do business.
From virtual learning to virtual shopping to virtual health care visits, it seems almost anything can be done through technology. As with any business, in health care, when we turn to technology, we are hoping to not only automate processes to reduce inefficiencies but also provide an increased level of convenience for our patients.
This increased dependence on technology has opened the door to and welcomed a newer technology platform to health care, known within the field as patient engagement software. These platforms allow us to modernize the way we communicate with patients, in addition to improving population health efforts, all while remaining HIPAA compliant.
Text messaging has become the preferred choice for many Americans and a mainstream in health care. Many patients want their appointment reminders, scheduling requests and the ability to get answers to their health questions with a quick text message to their doctor’s office. Phone calls take too long and if you’re busy, you don’t have time to wait on hold during your 8 a.m.-5 p.m. workday (when most health care businesses are open).
Introducing text message communication as a tool allows us to communicate with patients in the method they prefer, which increases the likelihood for engagement. It can help to reduce no show rates and fill open appointment slots faster.
As we’ve weathered the COVID-19 pandemic, the patient engagement software has made virtual waiting rooms and virtual check-ins possible in certain locations. Patients text when they arrive for their appointment and we text back when a room is ready. This allows for continued social distancing and keeping our waiting rooms as clear as possible.
While increased patient engagement helps us to provide a better patient experience, it also is important as we work toward our goals of increasing access to care, higher compliance with preventative screenings and reducing the cost of care to the patients by avoiding unnecessary visits to the emergency room or receiving duplicative services such as lab work and other diagnostic testing.
Through broadcast messaging, we can identify and reach out to specific populations of patients who are due for screenings such as breast cancer or colorectal cancer screenings. We also can communicate with patients faster and get them on the schedule sooner, while saving staff time to make phone calls.
In summary, patient engagement solutions can be extremely beneficial, whether in a pandemic or not, for health care organizations and patients both. These additional tools can help maximize efficiencies while communicating with patients using their method of contact preference. This increases our response rate from patients, increases patient satisfaction and reduces no show rates while also allowing for more convenient ways to provide health care services to the entire spectrum of patients.