For some, a patient’s only means of communicating with their healthcare provider is over the phone talking with a staff member or during an office visit. Unless a practice specifically communicates office policies or test results, patients often have to call their doctor’s office to ask.
Hurried doctors miss an opportunity to connect with patients and can make them feel rushed and consequently forgetful of something they wanted to talk to the doctor about.
Communicating results from tests but also explaining what the results mean or why you did the test can go a long way toward helping patients make better decisions about their care and can build trust and confidence in the relationship. And communicating office policies on obtaining results can prevent unnecessary phone calls and wasted staff time.
When patients feel they can’t communicate well with their doctor’s office, the relationship often isn’t a good fit for either.
Solution – Shared Responsibility Using Technology
Patients and providers alike can share in connecting with each other for better communication and outcomes. They can each provide information of value to the other through mutual investment.
For instance, patients can easily learn your office hours or what to do in the event of an emergency or you can notify them of delays or office closings if you make this information readily available to them. You can provide patients with educational information and allow them to review their statement online and you can participate in community activities all by utilizing available technology that patients are already used to using. Patients benefit from your easily obtained office information and you benefit by getting their commitment to your practice and understanding of your expectations.
We as consumers want information and we want it as fast as we can get it. Patients are no different.
Regarding marketing, Larry Beardall, executive vice president of marketing and sales for Dynatronics, a national manufacturer and distributor of medical equipment and products, says “there now exists an inherent expectation that information be instantly available and increasing assumption that communication with a practice be a two-way street.”
Patients expect doctors to communicate with them in ways they want to communicate and that essentially means through multiple methods.
Savvy practices can use social media to better communicate with patients to improve relationships.
The very best marketing efforts should not only harness the power of social media but also include features that improve office efficiency, enhance patient conveniences and drive revenues, according to Cynthia Ford-Sanders, a medical editor covering both clinical and business news impacting the healthcare industry. Of course, in using this technology, there are inherent responsibilities in protecting patient confidentiality and physician reputation. Ford-Sanders noted that the underlying message was in today’s climate – opting out of social media is really no option at all.
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