We often hear from doctors and dentists that they’d like greater convenience, time savings, and a centralized workflow for their critical front office staff.
Healthcare practices and patients are now asking for much of the same benefits for their day: less time spent on tasks and greater convenience in scheduling appointments, communicating, and more. Both are looking for a fully digital and convenient visit, whether it’s in person at the office or via a telehealth appointment. Practices that offer this level of ease will be set up for practice growth for the rest of 2020 and the long run.
Here are the top five tasks your office staff shouldn’t have to manage anymore; remove these, and you save the time your staff spends on running the practice every day:
- Handing a clipboard and pen to patients. The days of promptly handing patients pen and paper (or even a digital tablet) when they arrive at your office are gone. Yes, you need to collect or confirm their contact details, insurance, payment information, and medical information. But the “old” way is not only inefficient, but it’s also not safe during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, digital patient intake is coming to the forefront. Patients receive and fill out an online registration form — from the comfort of their home, on their time — before they ever step foot in your office.
- Patiently waiting by the fax machine to receive notifications and referrals. Today, you need to be able to communicate with your network via text, email, and digital fax. Your front office staff has likely spent more than enough time waiting in front of a clunky fax machine for orders, referrals, and clinical information. (How about the frustration of waiting for a specific message only to see a takeout menu come through?)
Instead, send and receive faxed documents from a digital portal that ideally should be fast, convenient, and secure. A digital fax service should also alert your staff to incoming documents, so there’s no more wasted time waiting.
- Calling every patient before each appointment to combat no-show appointments. Digital, automated appointment confirmations and reminders are now essential. Staff can review patients’ text confirmations in moments, and eliminate hours of running down a phone list and making one call at a time.
For each scheduled appointment, send a well-timed automated appointment reminder by email or SMS/text message. Reminders for every scheduled patient visit should be sent three days before the appointment,, then one day before, and then one hour before. After receiving a reminder, patients should be able to confirm their appointments digitally, without calling your office back. Ideally, a dashboard should display every outgoing patient reminder and each confirmation, with their status leading right up to the appointment.
- Asking patients to provide feedback after every appointment. Instead of manually sending out patient questionnaires (by snail mail?!), use a digital service to send a HIPAA-compliant patient satisfaction survey to patients automatically after their appointment, via email or SMS/text. This gives each patient the opportunity to share their experience with you and other patients online. After a patient submits feedback, just be sure to promptly address any issues they may have voiced. This shows you listen and respond to patient feedback, and builds a stronger reputation over time.
- Mailing postcards reminding patients to schedule follow-up appointments. Acquiring a new patient can be five times costlier than retaining an existing patient. So it’s important to keep your existing patients engaged — and booking future appointments — with email marketing campaigns instead of outdated direct mail. Email campaigns can be created, sent, and monitored digitally, allowing you to reach out to your patients, or segments of your patient base, at scale.
You can create engaging, well-designed emails to announce your practice events, promotions, seasonal messages, and reminders for annual exams. Include a patient call to action in the email so your patients can click or tap a button to easily request an appointment. Have an email solution that tracks the number of patients who opened and clicked on your message, so you can measure email performance and adjust your messaging and strategy as needed.