Using Technology in Healthcare for Managing Patient Relationships
Congratulations! Your patient acquisition efforts have proven successful and your practice appointment schedule is full. Now’s the time to start actively managing those patient relationships, however, and we don’t mean just being pleasant to them when they come in for a consultation.
Fortunately, there’s a whole arsenal of tools available for you to use to facilitate the process, which will free you up to spend your time practicing medicine and projecting the bedside manner your patients expect and deserve.
1. Patient-Centric Systems
Patient-centric care is all about establishing a connection with your patient that enables education, monitoring and preventive measures that create overall well-being. In the old days, it was easy when family doctors had small numbers of patients and close relationships with their patients’ families. It’s now much harder to establish a personal connection with each of several thousand patients. Although technology has simplified the record-keeping and administrative requirements, most medical practices are not yet optimizing the use of that technology for other purposes.
2. CRM Programs
Also known as Customer Relationship Management programs, the use of commercial CRM in business has revolutionized the way companies track and connect with their customers. A customized CRM program can do the same for your practice. Not only can the program store all relevant information about each patient, but it can help to alert you to changes in the patient’s condition that occur from one visit to the next without having to do a manual evaluation.
For example, the program can take data input during a consultation and compare it with previous information, such as blood glucose levels or blood pressure readings. If the comparison triggers an alert based on elevated levels, the system automatically generates emailing of educational information to the patient to help him. Certified practice manager Mary Pat Whaley of Manage My Practice offers a range of virtual services to help physicians stay on top of technology.
How often have you wished you knew what your patients wanted in respect of a particular issue? Well, now you can find out. How? By asking them. Your patients represent your target market, and if you are considering introducing a new product or service in your medical practice, ask your patients for input before you finalize the idea.
Send out a survey link via email, with an incentive such as a draw or a gift card for those who complete it. You can bet the incentives will cost a lot less than running professional focus groups will, and the results will be comparable. Once you introduce the new service, you can market it directly to your patients using email. And the best part is, you can integrate all these various options simply by capturing the email address of your new patient when he or she arrives for that first consultation.
4. Patient Support
Research shows that 78.1% of all Americans are active online as at June 2012. This makes the world wide web the perfect location for discussion forums patient support groups. With a plethora of groups already established that disseminate less-than-accurate information, you have an excellent opportunity to create a forum specifically for your patients where they can interact anonymously, support each other and get regular, accurate input from medical professionals on your team. Not only will this serve as an obvious differentiator for your medical practice, but you can also set it up to provide you with valuable feedback on trends among patients. Social media also offers you the option to provide online support, by creating profiles your patients can follow and engage with.
Sound too good to be true? Consider this: You create discussion forum on your practice website, and register every new patient by means of his or her email address. The forum has different areas or “rooms,” such as Chronic Diseases, Pediatrics, or Internal Medicine. Patients log in with user names they choose themselves so they have complete anonymity, but on sign up they check off the various conditions they suffer from and their areas of interest. The forum offers tools such as:
- Blood pressure monitoring
- Weight loss tracking
- Stroke awareness quiz
- Sleep quality evaluation
Based on the analytics of the program, you can determine how often people log in and participate, generate automatic information and advice to those who are active in specific areas. By comparing the use of the various monitoring tools with their email addresses, you can review their progress between visits.
Start managing your patient relationships today, by using the various technologies available including your website, blogs, social media, content management, survey software, CRM and email marketing. Call us for help on any of these issues, or download our free white paper for medical practice marketing by clicking on the banner below.