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.
1: Utilize Two-Way Texting and SMS
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.
2: Offer Online Check-In
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.
3: Digital Intake
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.
4: Staying Active Online
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.
5: Emphasizing Human Interaction
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.
Get Better Patient Engagement for Your Organization
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.