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Never has the bond between a provider and patient been more important than today. Affordable Care Act. Pay-for-Performance. Meaningful Use. Proactive healthcare. Words uttered among medical practices across the country.

Practices face challenges they haven’t been prepared for. More competition. Lower reimbursements. A tightening bottom line.

We have to start communicating better with patients. To reach new ones. To keep existing ones. To improve the patient experience and ultimately the relationship between a patient and a provider.

Patients want more personalized care and communication – whether it’s sent to their mobile, laptop or mailbox.

Practices know it, but 90% admit they don’t have the expertise to do it right.

First, it’s important to define ‘communications’. POS Professional Office Services defines patient communications as every piece of communication (printed, digital, verbal and nonverbal) that a patient has with a practice and a provider.

No longer is a patient measuring their provider just on ‘bedside manner.’ Sure, bedside manner still plays a large role in patient satisfaction. But bedside manner is only one small part of the communication that happens in a practice.

Take a look at most CG-CAHPS aligned surveys today. The surveys measure more than just bedside manner and overall customer service. A big chunk of the surveys talk about the overall satisfaction with the doctor. Did he/she spend enough time with the patient? Did he/she adequately explain the diagnosis and treatment? Did he/she involve the patient in the decision-making about his health?

And we know Meaningful Use Stage 2 is asking practices to be more proactive with improving patient health and wellness. Practices have to start documenting that they are sharing written or digital communication about the patient’s health with the patient. 

So now that we have a handle on what we mean by patient communications, where is a logical place to start? Let’s start with the brand. Why does the brand matter so much? Your brand is more than a color or a logo – it’s a promise to your customers. Do all of your pieces have the same look and feel?

Integrated, personalized branded materials along the entire patient journey improves how practices communicate with their patients.

Look around your office and at every single piece of communication you send to a patient.Your brochures, statements, posters, digital messages, welcome packets, letters and so on.Do they look like they come from the same practice?

Through extensive research for our customers we learned how to improve patient communications and patient/provider engagement. The result?

The Five Phases of the Patient Lifecycle

  1. NEW PATIENT - Welcome and registration communications
  2. DIAGNOSTIC & TREATMENT - Communications to support medical treatment
  3. FINANCIAL - Patients statements and policies that highlight patient responsibility
  4. EDUCATIONAL & PREVENTATIVE - Communications to improve health outcomes
  5. PATIENT ACQUISITION - Consistent marketing to grow your practice

Intentional and frequent communication will improve relationships. Every piece of communication you are sending is part of an ongoing conversation you are having with your patient. So let’s start taking a look at every patient communication you send. Take our Communication Audit below.

The Communication Audit

Step 1: Examine your communication pieces

  1. Lay out every written and digital patient communication (make a copy) you have in your practice and lay them out on the table. (letterhead, envelopes, statements, appointment cards, emails, texts, forms, brochures, diagnostic literature, greeting cards, etc.)
  2. Do they all look and sound like they came from your practice?
  3. Is your logo on the piece? Your practice contact information?
  4. Identify what needs updating and what can be tossed

Step 2: Group your patient communications by the patient lifecycle

  1. New Patient – registration forms, health history forms, office stationery, welcome packets...
  2. Diagnostic & Treatment – booklets, brochures...
  3. Financial – statements, policies, insurance forms, past due notices...
  4. Educational & Preventative – recall cards, appointment reminders, pre-and post appointment instructions...
  5. Acquisition – referral materials, surveys, thank yous...

Where are the gaps? Remember frequent communication all year long will help improve patient health outcomes and provider relationships.

POS Professional Office Services approaches communications as a way to create a bond with patients. To enhance your reputation. To build loyalty. We can show you how to create healthier relationships with improved communications. And we are happy to earn your trust one project at a time. After all, if there’s one thing we understand, it’s how to build a relationship.