Physician-patient communication has never been more significant and critical for successful practice operations. Here’s why.
Patients today are well connected socially and electronically and have very high expectations — actually demands — for relevant, timely, and action-oriented responses from physicians and practices. On other side, physicians have more reasons to initiate communication with patients to be sure they are responsive, adherent, and moving their own healthcare needs along as directed.
Below are the three ways physicians should be using technology to better engage and communicate with their patients:
1. Patient Portals. Physicians often resist changes to their work processes and fear patients will be confused by the data pushed to them through a portal. However, looking at the benefits the patient portal offers, more practices are using patient portals as a resource. Through the portal, patients can view valuable and updated health information online and ask questions for immediate or later response. But also these portals can generate an increase in patient loyalty because practices are providing more context and information beyond what is said during the appointment. When the portal demonstrates an “above and beyond” attitude by your practice, patients will respond favorably. Practices can utilize patient portals the most by including key features of open access scheduling, patient education, two-way messaging, and patient reported outcomes.
2. Video conferencing. Video conferencing can be an incredibly effective tool in the employment of remote telemedicine. First, physicians and patients can reduce the costs associated with regular office visits. Second, video conferencing can have uses beyond the private practice by making physician-to-physician connections for consultations and referrals easier and faster. Video conferencing solutions can surely influence efficiency for healthcare providers by expanding their reach, providing quality care on-demand, and reducing costs.
3. EHR Platforms. To meet requirements in the second stage of the government's EHR incentive program, at least 5 percent of a practice’s patients view, transmit, or download their personal health information. By implementing a certified EHR that has user-engaging patient portals, practices can also improve patient care and patient loyalty. Additionally, an EHR platform designed with a user-engaging patient portal, may offer a new experience for patients, especially if they can access information through properly secured mobile apps.
We have entered an era in which patients can easily access their medical records; and pay their bills, request appointments, research health topics, review personal health information, complete medical forms, and update their profiles and contact information online. That is, as long as practices embrace the technology that enables patients to do so.
Physician practices should be ready for the new age of patient communication because the speed at which patients desire and demand information has shifted from soon, to instantaneous.