Healthcare organizations and private medical practices face an enormous increase in regulations. At the same time, insurance deductibles steadily climb so that patient out-of-pocket payments continue to represent a larger percentage of the overall revenue cycle in each passing year. Practices and healthcare organizations that continue to succeed have refocused their mode of patient care. Today's healthcare consumer makes more conscious decisions regarding their own therapy and treatments. Enter patient engagement.
Patient engagement covers more than simple communication - the ability to engage patients starts before the first visit and carries beyond the doctor's appointment. And there's more at stake to patient engagement than simple customer service. Statistics show that patients who are better engaged in their treatment are more apt to comply with prescribed plans and take initiative in well care. Not only does engagement improve the patient's satisfaction with the practice, it also dramatically improves revenue cycle management.
5 Ways to Improve Patient Engagement in a Medical Practice
Many practices face technological advances with some trepidation. There's always the fear that training periods will mean a negative impact on productivity and that patient care may suffer due to these new responsibilities on existing staff. Ideally, practices need to cater to patient convenience to improve their experience while fostering an environment of trust. Many patient engagement improvements only mean a change practice communication methods, though some may mean an investment in software or technology to keep up with Meaningful Use and other requirements. Here are 5 techniques your practice can institute to improve patient engagement.
- Marketing. Marketing plays a key role in patient engagement for a number of reasons. Marketing efforts often reach out to the existing patients first, or should, so they serve as an extra measure to ensure customer satisfaction. Extending communications to include birthday messages, follow up on patient progress after visits, and contact patients with reminders for upcoming appointments can all be considered marketing, as well as patient communication. Developing ongoing content in your marketing effort also improves patient engagement. Consider adding a newsletter or blog to better serve and educate patients on well care.
- Web Portal. A practice web portal offers patients a convenient way to keep track of their scheduled visits and treatment plans. Patients can sign in using their own password, pay existing balances, confirm scheduled appointments, and even correspond with physicians and staff.
- Patient Contact Preference. It's important that practices confirm their patients' preferred method of contact. While some patients might prefer an email notice, others only respond to phone calls or texts. Making the follow up communications convenient for the patient often improves their engagement and outcomes.
- Transparency / Scheduled Payments. The reality is that many patients are paying a much larger portion of their own bill. For these patients, it's important that they're aware of their payment responsibility as soon as possible so that they can adequately budget their finances. Practices equipped to estimate patient bills in advance and set up a transparent payment schedule are not only more likely to receive payment on time, they also alleviate some of the stress for the patients.
- Outsourcing Medical Billing Services. Medical Billing and entire revenue cycle management is a large job for many medical practices to handle in-house. Outsourcing these activities offers some benefit in freeing staff to concentrate on patient treatment. Additionally, billing and coding specialists are expert in the field. This expertise means that patients benefit from simpler, more efficient billing procedures and practices often decrease the amount of time between payments.
There are a number of ways to improve patient engagement; some are simple measures in customer service while others may necessitate new technology implementation. At M-Scribe, we're adept at offering the best customer service and medical billing initiatives for successful practices. Contact us today for a free consultation.