Most physician practices and health systems are built to react to patient communications needs instead of using communications to better serve their patients. The patient communication software you selected in the early stages of your practice was probably adequate for your size and needs then, but how well has it evolved to meet today’s patient expectations?
Does it scale?
Most likely, you’ve replicated your workstations and processes as your practice grew, investing months to train each new associate. This investment likely makes you feel even more committed to your software platform – even if it runs a little slowly lately.
Can it do tricks?
In the last few years, companies offering applications for features like secure patient texting, webchat, and centralized calendar monitoring made a compelling argument: “Don’t replace your system, just add this!” Many practices did.
How many clicks are needed to accomplish a single task?
These incremental and disjointed add-ons have likely created a Frankenstein of cobbled-together applications and tools that simply co-exist. On paper, your platform might check all the boxes for features, but is it complicated to navigate? Does one tool actually talk to the others? Or, in your effort to streamline, have you added additional layers of manual data input processes?
At the end of the day, you’re putting a lot of faith into a legacy system that wasn’t built for the pressures facing today’s practices and health systems.
So, what superpowers should modern patient communication software provide?
An “Air Traffic Control Mindset”
The ability to respond rapidly is one of the most crucial success factors for your patient communication software. The initial challenges of managing COVID-19 alerted many practices to just how ill-equipped they were to respond quickly to massive scheduling disruptions.
Maintaining a smooth practice workflow requires constant monitoring, with the ability to alert subgroups of patients or staff at any time. Like landing planes from an air traffic control tower, your healthcare practice must respond quickly to changes as they arise.
For example, if a patient calls to report COVID-19 symptoms after visiting your office earlier that week, your staff will need to:
- Notify staff members and discern quarantine guidelines
- Alert any patients who were in the office that day or after that time
- Reschedule appointments
- Monitor the situation for the next 14 days
Essential Capabilities for Maximum Responsiveness
While COVID may have increased the frequency of rapid patient communication, there have always been reasons providers may need to reach patients quickly. From power outages to changes in provider schedules, appointment disruptions happen suddenly. Today’s patients expect to be notified quickly – and lack tolerance for lag. Patients may change providers for this reason alone.
What essential capabilities should your patient communication platform feature?
- 24/7 centralized scheduling intelligence. You must be able to respond to emergencies 24/7/365 without resorting to slow emails or time-consuming phone calls. Your call center teams should use patient communication software that stores all information in one place. A single source of truth makes it easier to quickly sort records and initiate an outbound campaign, based on your patients’ preferred communication platform. Your software should provide customized call scripts and guided workflows, so care associates can respond with accurate information in real-time for text, chat, email, or phone.
- Patient routing to telehealth. Can your staff quickly identify which appointments to change to telehealth, then reach those patients immediately? Your patient communication platform should capture demographic information, enabling you to easily identify the right people and reach them with the right message.
- An alert system. Text-based emergency alerts will be key to reaching any subgroup of staff or patients instantly. Utilize this functionality for staff scheduling announcements and sharing up-to-the-minute details with patients regarding appointment changes.
Robust, Compliant Patient Communication Technology
Many practices adopted the fastest and most compatible patient communication platforms available at that time, but are they still the best fit for the long term?
Some things to consider when planning your long-term solution include:
Is your call center platform HIPAA compliant? Be sure your patient communication software protects patient privacy and secures PHI, even as regulations change.
Does your current telehealth solution integrate with your EMR – or will there be separate (time-consuming) data entry following every interaction? Integrating your call center software with your EMR platform enables care associates to answer questions quickly, record information as it happens, and provide a higher level of personalization.
How enjoyable is the patient experience when using your current communication solution? Are care associates wasting time searching for answers on multiple screens in disparate systems? If the experience hasn’t been seamless, your patients will notice, and your care quality scores could suffer.
Plan Your Solution Carefully
Physician practices and health systems are still working out their processes to reach a “new normal” where appointments flow seamlessly. Now is the time to plan ahead, so your practice is in the best place possible to respond quickly and responsibly to today’s dynamic healthcare landscape.
Tap the full potential of your patient communication software to deliver more responsive care, starting immediately. We’ll show you how PatientSync can help.