Is your practice struggling to engage and keep patients informed? The demands of the digital age have changed the way doctors and patients communicate. Even before a prospective patient steps foot in your practice, they look for doctors and services online.
In today’s digital age, 81% of patients prefer to use digital tools, such as a website with a patient portal to access appointments and important documents. Patients hopefully can book through your website, but it’s also about effortlessly communicating updates and news to keep your patients in the loop.
While the healthcare industry is continuing to develop and adapt new digital technology, one of the key pillars of this transformation is patient engagement and how to improve it. In the past, healthcare was often seen as a one-way street, with doctors diagnosing and treating patients, and patients simply following their recommendations.
However, in today’s healthcare ecosystem, patient engagement plays a pivotal role in improving health outcomes, enhancing patient satisfaction, and fostering a more collaborative approach to healthcare.
There are multiple strategies that doctors and medical practices can implement to increase patient engagement. These strategies have been tested and shown to make a significant difference in how patients interact with their healthcare providers and take charge of their health.
Whether you’re a physician, practice manager, or part of a healthcare team, these strategies can be tailored to your specific needs and goals. Let’s dive into these strategies and discover how they can transform your medical practice into a hub of patient-centered care.
1. Medical Practice Website and Patient Portal
Keeping your patients informed is important. In fact, 68% of patients are more likely to choose a provider who offers the ability to book, change or cancel appointments online.
Your practice’s website is an essential tool to support and communicate with patients, but it can also make scheduling appointments much easier.One enhancement that has become increasingly popular is a patient portal, which can also provide updates and payment features.
A patient portal is a secure online platform that allows patients to access their medical records, test results, appointment schedules, and communicate with their healthcare providers electronically. It serves as a bridge between patients and their healthcare providers, providing a convenient and centralized space for managing healthcare-related information.
Importance of Mobile
Did you know that 75% patients want appointment reminders via a mobile device? You can do this through SMS text messaging. One study by the National Library of Medicine found that texting patients not only improves engagement but also efficiency of communicating information in a timely manner.
Benefits of a Medical Practice Website and Patient Portal
- Improved Access to Health Information: Patients can access their medical records and test results at any time, facilitating better-informed decisions about their health.
- Enhanced Communication: Secure messaging through the portal enables patients to ask questions and seek clarifications from their healthcare team, promoting a continuous dialogue.
- Convenient Appointment Management: Patients can schedule appointments, request prescription refills, and receive appointment reminders through the portal, making healthcare interactions more convenient.
- Increased Engagement: Patient portals empower individuals to take an active role in their healthcare, leading to increased engagement and responsibility for their well-being.
- Time and Cost Savings: Reduced administrative burdens benefit both patients and providers by saving time and resources on phone calls and paperwork.
Don’t Forget HIPAA
To effectively set up and promote a patient portal, the first step is to carefully select a secure portal system that adheres to healthcare data security regulations, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It’s crucial to ensure seamless integration of this portal system with your Electronic Health Records (EHR) to provide patients with real-time access to their medical records.
Using Email Marketing with Your Website and Patient Portal
If seeking higher patient engagement, you can use email marketing and social media to educate your audience about the portal’s features and benefits using pamphlets, your practice’s website, and in-office signage. By implementing a patient portal effectively, your medical practice can not only enhance patient engagement but also streamline administrative processes, ultimately leading to an improved overall patient experience.
2. Leverage Smart Communication and Digital Education Tools
Some of the digital tools that can help include:
- Email marketing and automation
- SMS/text messaging
- Video chat
- Digital education portal or resource center on website
New technology can be a powerful tool for enhancing communication in healthcare. Utilize secure texting, SMS, and other messaging platforms to enable patients to ask questions or request appointments conveniently. In fact, 61% of patients believe using a patient portal improves the patient physician relationship, according to Medscape.
Telehealth services can facilitate virtual consultations, improving access to care and reducing communication barriers. For example, your website or patient portal can serve as a central hub for communication, allowing patients to view test results, share information, and stay engaged in their healthcare journey.
Ubicare also conducted a study that found 92% of patients feel more connected and took better care of themselves because of the digital patient education they receive.
By prioritizing effective communication and leveraging technology to facilitate it, medical practices can create a more patient-centered approach to care, leading to increased engagement, improved health outcomes, and a positive patient experience.
3. Offer Convenient Online Appointment Scheduling and Reminders
Providing convenient scheduling options is key to engaging patients in their healthcare journey. Offer online appointment booking through your website or patient portal, enabling patients to schedule appointments at their convenience, 24/7.
Additionally, consider offering flexible hours, including evenings or weekends, to accommodate patients with varying schedules. Streamline the scheduling process by allowing patients to choose preferred providers and locations.
In a recent survey, 57% of patients answered that they expect automated notifications via text, voice, or email to remind them to schedule appointments or take medications.
Automation simplifies the process of sending appointment reminders and increases their effectiveness. Implement automated reminder systems that can send reminders via email, text message, or phone call based on patient preferences.
Customize these reminders to include essential details like appointment time, location, and any specific instructions. Automating appointment reminders not only reduces the administrative burden but also ensures consistent and timely communication with patients, reducing the likelihood of missed appointments.
By offering convenient scheduling options and automating reminders, medical practices can improve patient engagement, reduce missed appointments, and create a more patient-centric experience. This, in turn, leads to better increased engagement, healthcare outcomes, and more satisfied patients.
4. Should Medical Practices Offer Telehealth Services?
Telehealth has emerged as a game-changer in patient engagement, especially in the digital age. It enables healthcare providers to reach patients wherever they are, breaking down geographical barriers and increasing access to care. The convenience of virtual consultations can significantly enhance patient engagement, making it a valuable addition to modern healthcare practices.
How Can Your Medical Practice Offer Telemedicine?
- Select a secure telehealth platform that complies with healthcare data privacy regulations.
- Train your staff and providers on how to conduct virtual appointments and ensure they have the necessary equipment and technology.
- Communicate the availability of telehealth services to your patients through your website, emails, or other communication channels, and provide clear instructions on how to schedule virtual appointments.
Creating a seamless telehealth experience is essential for patient engagement. Medical practices should prioritize a user-friendly interface for both patients and providers, ensuring easy navigation and clear communication. You can also use telehealth platforms to gather feedback from both patients and providers to continuously improve and refine the telehealth experience, making it an integral part of your patient-centered care approach.
5. Social Media for Medical Practices
It’s important to maintain a strong digital presence across all social media channels. In their search for a new doctor or even symptoms about health problems, 80% of internet users search for health information online, and almost 50% would like information about a specific doctor.
When you post regularly on social media about your doctors, practice, new services, events, and other news, you build more trust with prospective and current patients.
To boost patient engagement as much as possible, an effective online presence and strategic use of social media can significantly enhance patient engagement and strengthen the relationship between medical practices and their patients.
Here’s a detailed look at how to leverage social media and build an online presence while maintaining professionalism and privacy:
- Content Creation: Develop a content strategy that provides value to your patients. Share health tips, medical insights, and information on common health issues. Use engaging visuals and videos to make the content more appealing and shareable.
- Engagement and Interaction: Respond promptly to patient comments, questions, and messages on your social media platforms. Encourage dialogue by posing thought-provoking questions or conducting health-related polls and surveys.
- Educational Campaigns: Launch educational campaigns on important health topics, such as preventive care, vaccinations, or healthy lifestyle choices. These campaigns can help raise awareness and keep patients informed.
- Patient Testimonials: Share patient success stories and testimonials (with consent) to build trust and showcase your practice’s positive impact.
- Live Q&A Sessions: Host live question-and-answer sessions with healthcare professionals to address patient queries directly. This interactive approach can foster a sense of community and engagement.
- Add Email Marketing: Create a simple sign-up link to add to your social media profiles that automatically adds subscribers to your email list.
Do you need help with your medical practice’s social media and online presence? Talk to a healthcare marketing strategist and get a team of social media experts. Our healthcare marketing experts can help you reach more potential patients, increase follower count, and post high-quality video testimonials.
Bonus: How to Build an Online Presence for Your Medical Practice
Social media is a huge aspect of your online presence, but you also need to distribute your content across multiple channels. Here are a few other things to consider:
- Website Development: Ensure your practice has an informative and user-friendly website. Include essential information such as contact details, services offered, provider bios, and patient resources.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Optimize your website for search engines to improve its visibility in online search results. This can help potential patients find your practice more easily.
- Online Reviews and Ratings: Encourage satisfied patients to leave reviews and ratings on platforms like Google, Yelp, or Healthgrades. Positive reviews can enhance your practice’s credibility.
- Online Directories: List your practice in online healthcare directories and ensure that your information is accurate and up to date.
- Blogs and Articles: Publish informative and engaging blog posts or articles related to healthcare topics relevant to your specialty. This can position your practice as an authoritative source of medical information.
Make it Easy for Patients to Choose Your Medical Practice
Did you know that 42% of patients say the effort it takes to connect with their healthcare provider is a huge obstacle? You can increase patient engagement and improve your communication with new tools and technology, as well as strategies for social media.
Embracing these innovations while upholding the highest standards of professionalism, ethics, and privacy ensures a bright future where patients are not just recipients of care but active partners in their own well-being.
By adopting these strategies, healthcare providers can embark on a journey towards a more patient-centric, digitally-enabled, and engaged future, where healthcare truly becomes a collaborative endeavor.
Looking for a way to implement these patient engagement strategies? Schedule a free 15-minute call with healthcare marketing experts and get a full plan.