By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
Relationship building has always been an essential part of the doctor-patient dynamic. Today, however, patients hope the doctor-patient relationship will become increasingly digital.
Of course, it’s just as important to meet in person as it always was. But for patients (and potential patients) with busy lives, it’s a good idea to have multiple touchpoints. And what better way to do so than with the devices we use every day?
These 4 technologies will help patients feel more connected to your practice. You’ll stay top of mind with patients who haven’t yet picked your team as their healthcare providers—and remind current patients you’re here when they need you.
Technology’s Shifting Role in Doctor-Patient Relationship Building
Just a decade ago, most patients didn’t expect to hear from their doctors very often. And the experience could often be frustrating. Caring providers have always done all they can to see patients in need, but the doctor-patient relationship is strained when contact is limited to regular business hours through confusing phone trees and unclear scheduling policies.
Today, patients prefer—and often expect—to receive communications like appointment reminders digitally. Many would much rather schedule an appointment online than over the phone, and many more would love additional options for online communication and health information.
Changing the technology you use to communicate with patients—both current and prospective—can be a game-changer for your organization. Competing healthcare providers are already using these 4 methods to reach people outside of the office. Can you keep up?
#1: Text Messaging
Here’s an easy question: what do most patients do to fill time the moment they’re alone in an exam room? Check their phones! The modern healthcare consumer is an avid texter, and may be more likely to respond to a text than answer the phone. In fact, 97% of people in the U.S. use text messaging weekly, and most use it every day (Pew Research Center).
Here’s the challenge: standard SMS messaging may not be HIPAA compliant due to the lack of encryption (HIPAA Journal). However, SMS messaging is not the only way to “text” a patient.
To ensure all text communication is HIPAA compliant, you should look into options other doctor’s offices are already using, like Spruce. If a patient has a concern with a medication, needs a refill, or just has a quick question, they can contact their doctor via the app.
#2: A Healthcare CRM
Another way to reach patients on the devices they use every day is via email. We often recommend email marketing to touch base with those who have called or filled out a form on your website, but haven’t yet taken the next step to sign up for an appointment.
One of the best ways to do this is with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that allows you to streamline your marketing processes and keep in touch with those who aren’t quite ready for an appointment—but may be very soon.
As with texting, be careful with how you handle any PHI. In addition, always check that emails are mobile-friendly. More people now read email on their phones than on a desktop computer!
#3: Social Media
Granted, not many people find their healthcare provider through social media. But it’s worth allowing those that go above and beyond to research your facility and see what you’re all about.
Besides, taking ownership over your social media accounts has SEO value, helping you take control over what patients see when they search your name. It’s a great place to show off the relaxing (or energetic) atmosphere in your office and showcase your staff.
You can also use social media to advertise your services with highly targeted ads that find people in your desired demographic. For more information about paid social media strategies, see a previous article here: The Biggest Misconception about Social Media for Healthcare
#4: Voice Search “Skills”
Businesses have long been welcome to develop and submit “skills” to the Alexa platform—Amazon’s virtual assistant and voice search platform. However, only a select group of healthcare providers and companies were recently selected to develop skills as Amazon unveiled its HIPAA enablement.
This option may not be available to all organizations—yet. But it’s only a matter of time before your competitors have voice apps that help people find the closest location, schedule an appointment, or even access medical records.
For more information about what’s already out there, read Amazon Alexa Is HIPAA Compliant: What’s Next?