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Patient Communication: How your patients want you to communicate

10 Apr 2019 | by Dr. Surabhi Bhati

 

As a healthcare provider, you always want to be connected to your patients whether they are inside or out if your care facility. Being in constant contact with your patients not only helps you in understanding your patient's demands but also build trust with your consumer base.

We all know communication is important to build a long lasting relationship. A good long term communication strategy in place will help your hospital in building a strong relationship with your consumer base. As much as content or message is important to build on a strong bond. The mode of connecting is also very important. Imagine you have a patient who hates talking on the phone and your primary mode of communication is giving a call to the patient post-discharge. It's not like you should stop calling your patients altogether. It’s just that you should call only those patients who enjoy and are comfortable talking on the phone.

Hence the answer is quite simple, communicate with the patients with mode they prefer. Your organization shall be equipped with the tools to help you interact with your patients in multiple ways. To understand the preferable mode on communication in American population West Corporation conducted a survey in 2018 among 1,036 individuals. The survey suggested that patients are less likely to pick up the phone and call the hospital. It’s not like patient doesn't want to communicate with the provider but there is a digital shift in the population. Patients are happy to receive communication via email, SMS, notification and other modern methods.

Interestingly, 74% of respondents feel more communication is needed outside of appointments. People want an additional source of communication with their healthcare provider besides the traditional approach of a phone call. Patients want healthcare providers to use the modern way of communication like Text messages and email communication.

The same study reveals that patients are 29% more likely to email their healthcare provider now compared to seven years back. Apart from communication patients are also open to respond to health care surveys and feedback. Eighty-six percent of patients are willing to take surveys from a healthcare provider or organization. The study report states that the number of patients sending a text to the provider rose three times from 2011 to 2018.

The communication via text message is not only simple and easy to use but is the most preferable method by the patients. As the study data suggest healthcare providers and organization should start using text-based services to improve their outreach. The text-based services are a convenient and economical mode for connecting with your new and existing patients.

The study not only reveals that patients prefer text messages as a form of communication but also suggest the kind of information patients are looking out. The two highly rated information that patients prefer to receive were appointment confirmation and post-treatment care plan.

The study reveals that apart from text messages, email communication is also gaining ground as a mode of communication but is still lagging behind with only a 5% increase in email usage in the last seven years. The healthcare organization can use modern communication tools apart from the traditional phone call in multiple ways from sending appointment reminders to send care instruction and various patient-focused surveys.

Healthcare consumers are aware and more open to having two-way communication with their providers. It is high time that the organization should dig deep to come up with a long term communication strategy for their patients.

The overall communication strategy shall be based on the concept of wellbeing for their patients. The patient experience team can use multiple modes of communication to:

  • Promote wellness and preventive care:

Patients nowadays are more aware and prefer taking an active part in managing their health. Patients want information regarding preventive test and screening needs to be followed to prevent hospitalization. An email with a schedule for their upcoming preventive test and screening will help patients in proactively managing their health.

  • Encourage chronic disease management:

Management of chronic diseases requires a combination of clinical knowledge and self-management by the patients and their family. Patients with chronic conditions require information about their planned treatment. Healthcare providers can send disease-specific emails to a group of patients to educate them about what they should be doing at home to manage their condition.

  • Increase transparency around billing and payments:

Patients find themselves confused about what part of the treatment is covered and not covered. Providers can send information regarding the expected billing to help patients better understand the financial aspect of treatment.

 

Apart from the regular communication healthcare providers should engage in conducting regular surveys to understand the needs of their customers. Healthcare organization shall use modern communication channels- text, email, survey to provide the best patient experience under their care.

 

Interested in using patient feedback and survey tools for your hospital? Contact Healtho5 today for  MedEngage® Feedback Real-time patient feedback solution.

We at Healtho5 are on a mission to solve patient engagement market in India and provide affordable easy to use solutions to the healthcare industry and patients.

Visit Healtho5 or call us @ +91-8047092031

 

About the Author: Dr Surabhi Bhati is Marketing Manager at Healtho5 Solutions. She has a medical degree with an MBA in Health Information Technology (HIT). She is passionate about healthcare innovation, writing, and online marketing.