Patient engagement, a vital component of the healthcare delivery system, is increasingly making a paradigm shift towards the digital realm. With patients becoming more tech-savvy and expecting personalized care, healthcare providers need to adopt proactive digital patient engagement strategies.
Today, we will provide insights into the five most effective methods to engage your patients digitally, including two-way texting, SMS messaging, online check-ins, digital intake, and staying active online.
Two-way texting is an effective mode of communication that allows healthcare providers to send messages and receive responses back from patients directly. It is a patient engagement strategy that ensures real-time interaction and produces immediate feedback from patients. In many ways, it operates the same as one mobile phone user sending a text message to another, only with the right software, this can be done through a work device without needing a phone to send messages.
SMS refers to one-way, typically automated message sending. This can be used for points of engagement like appointment reminders, updates to the patient queue, and other similar types of outreach to patients on their mobile devices.
Patients are more likely to read and respond to SMS messages than emails. They can be used for sending appointment reminders, instructions for medication, health-related alerts or any communications that need to be read promptly.
To implement two-way texting in your practice, start by informing your patients about this new communication channel, explaining the benefits and letting them know how to opt in. Make sure the software you use is HIPAA-compliant to ensure the privacy and security of patient data.
For SMS, keep your messages brief and to the point. Where necessary, provide a contact number or link for patients to get more information or assistance. As with two-way texting, compliance with HIPAA guidelines is mandatory.
Online check-in systems provide patients with a digital platform that allows them to remotely book their visit time with minimal assistance required. This system minimizes both the waiting time for patients and the workload for your reception desk. It also empowers patients to control their health care with flexibility by deciding their check-in time and being able to wait from home.
Offer an intuitive user interface that is easy to navigate, even for less tech-savvy patients. Make sure your platform is mobile-friendly, as most patients are likely to use it on their smartphones. Wherever possible, offer links to the online check-in portal on your website so that it can be easily found.
Digital intake refers to the use of electronic forms for gathering patient information prior to a visit. It reduces the need for physical paperwork, ensuring a more seamless check-in process that can be completed beforehand.
A digital intake platform allows patients to provide their medical history, current health status, and signature for consent in advance, ensuring that healthcare providers have all the necessary information before the visit. It can help eliminate redundant paperwork while optimizing appointment times and scheduling.
When selecting a digital intake solution, opt for an easy-to-use, HIPAA-compliant digital platform that allows patients to fill in their information at their convenience. Additionally, ensure that the platform can integrate with your electronic health record (EHR) system for ease of data access and management.
Oftentimes, engaging person-to-person online is the most effective tool to drive more traffic to your urgent care or veterinary practice. Actions like interacting with social media comments and messages, responding to online reviews, and keeping your profiles regularly updated are simple ways to both market your facility’s brand and engage with potential patients.
Where legally permissible within the healthcare industry, be responsive to interactions from users, providing quick and helpful information that leads them to engaging further through your patient portal or website. Do not attempt to treat, diagnose, or offer other medical advice over social media.
Despite the increasing digitization of healthcare, human interaction remains the cornerstone of patient engagement. Digital tools should be implemented in a way that they enhance, not replace, the human aspect of care. This enables your practice to be efficient without losing the human touch.
A patient will not remember filling out digital paperwork nearly as much as they will recall how they felt while they were visiting your location. When digital tools are used effectively, they free up more time for healthcare providers to spend on direct patient care. This can help build rapport, boost patient satisfaction, and inspire confidence in your facility.
Use digital engagement tools as a means to streamline operations and eliminate inefficiencies, but ensure that personal patient-provider interactions are prioritized. It’s important for your practice to foster a culture that values personal interaction, empathetic listening, and responsive communication.
At ER Express, we provide your animal health practice, urgent care, or emergency department with a complete suite of digital patient engagement solutions designed to encourage interaction with providers while freeing more time for your staff to focus on providing an excellent experience.
To learn more about how we can assist your organization in taking digital patient engagement to a new level, request a demo today.
An urgent care for animals provides veterinary services for animals that are in need of quick medical attention or cannot go to a standard veterinarian’s office due to their operating hours. There is a growing need for this service due to increased pet ownership across the country and the limitations of traditional veterinary practice hours.
Veterinary urgent care verticals present an opportunity to increase revenue for existing practices and provide additional value to pet owners, such as the ability for quick treatment for minor concerns or non-life-threatening conditions with their pets.
The first step in adding an urgent care vertical to your existing veterinary practice is identifying and understanding the specific needs and expectations of the local pet owners and community around you. Be sure to evaluate the local veterinary landscape, including competitor practices and their hours, so you can determine if there’s a need for this type of service in your area.
When it comes to staffing, it’s important to hire experienced veterinarians and staff who are comfortable with emergency care situations and able to work more flexible hours than typical veterinary practices. For animal urgent care verticals specifically, staff will need additional training, especially in terms of providing emergency and urgent care services.
Depending on the physical state of your current practice, you may need to explore the need for adjusting existing facilities or procuring new space to accommodate urgent care. There are a few additional spaces to consider, which include appropriate kenneling areas, treatment rooms, and surgical suites. There may also be a need for additional or specialized medical equipment that you need when providing these services.
Finally, it’s crucial to understand and meet all local and national regulatory requirements for operating an urgent care for animals. Keep in mind the appropriate insurances and other legal considerations you may need to consider based on your jurisdiction’s laws and regulations.
Another idea could also include reaching out to other veterinarians that have successfully opened animal urgent cares outside of your local market. These individuals would not be competitors to your practice and may be willing to share some of their own experiences and advice, since they will not feel like they will have to compete against you for local pet owners.
The proper technology and pet owner engagement software are of the utmost importance in modern veterinary practices, especially when adding an urgent care vertical. Here are some digital tools that you should consider implementing in your practice when adding this vertical:
An online check-in service offers convenience to pet owners by allowing them to hold their spot in line online ahead of their visit so they can wait remotely. This tool also optimizes the clinic’s operational efficiency by allowing staff to offer up or block off time slots that can redirect patient volume to less busy times and days or even less busy locations. It also opens up communication between the urgent care and the client via email and texts so the urgent care can keep their clients informed about wait times and other details regarding their visit.
Virtual waiting allows clients and their pets to avoid sitting in the waiting room and instead wait remotely until the office is ready to see them. This practice minimizes physical crowding in the waiting room and eases stress for both pet owners and pets. It can be used in conjunction with an online check-in tool to add all walk-in visits to the same virtual queue as online check-ins.
Utilizing SMS and two-way texting with your clients can enhance the flow of communication between pet owners and your practice’s staff. This technology is useful when providing owners with timely updates about their pet’s condition, alleviating their worries and keeping them informed throughout the oftentimes stressful process.
Digital intake forms allow owners to complete any necessary paperwork before they arrive at your office. These are a great tool for streamlining the registration process, reducing paperwork, and helping the urgent care team focus more on patient care instead of having to manually handle paperwork when patients arrive.
Intake forms are often the main reason that you may spend time in the waiting room. Completing this paperwork digitally can prove an invaluable tool, especially for people with pets who are restless, energetic, or do not get along well with other animals. Instead, the pet owner can complete these tasks from a more comfortable place, such as at home or in their car.
Custom screening questions can be used in triaging and deciding how your staff should be prioritizing cases. They help your practice quickly and accurately collect vital information from patients that will help determine which pets should be seen in which order.
Certain software can facilitate seamless drop-off and pickup processes by utilizing SMS messaging. This helps ensure less contact and smoother operations throughout the process, especially in peak times or emergency situations. If a pet needs to spend considerable time at your practice, you could also use this tool to notify a pet owner when to return to your facility if they decide to leave the premises for a time with plans to return later to pick up their pet.
If you’re considering adding an animal urgent care vertical to your existing veterinary practice, it’s important to be equipped with the right medical software that will set you up for success and allow your practice to operate as smoothly as possible.
At ER Express, we provide a wide range of digital engagement solutions designed specifically for veterinary offices to improve their operations and make the process easy and efficient for patients and practitioners alike. For more information on how our tools can help your veterinary urgent care, request a demo today.