The Intake

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The best communication channels to drive patient retention

Increase patient retention by using these communication channels

Mom holding toddler son is on the phone as one of the healthcare communication channels

At a Glance

  • Email, text messaging, patient portals, and more are effective healthcare communication channels for connecting with patients outside the doctor’s office.
  • Utilize these channels for appointment reminders, sharing health information, and gathering patient feedback.
  • Using multiple communication methods can improve patient engagement and retention.
  • Communication channels should be optimized for each patient population.

In the age of technology, it’s reasonable to assume that postcards are no longer an efficient communication channel  to remind patients of their appointments. If that’s accurate,  how do doctors ensure patient retention? Here are a few effective healthcare communication channels today’s patients prefer.

Healthcare communication channel 1: Email

Email is one of the easiest and quickest healthcare communication channels. It can be used to send appointment confirmations, reminders, and post-visit surveys.

Email marketing for medical offices is still a highly effective and direct communication tool. However, there are both pros and cons. Even though the message is immediately delivered to the recipient’s inbox and can serve as a record of the message, it can also be less secure than other communication methods. Be sure to follow all HIPAA laws regarding patient communications when sending emails, and keep them short and to the point.

Additionally, studies have shown that people are suffering from email fatigue and are setting more stringent spam filters. With that in mind, this should not be the only communication method your practice chooses.

Email can help reduce late appointments, no-shows, and cancellations — leading to higher patient retention.  ”

Even so, sending out a survey through email can help engage patients. It can also help you strengthen your reputation by allowing you to listen to your patients’ feedback. Email can also help reduce late appointments, no-shows, and cancellations — leading to higher patient retention. 

When sending patients an email, be brief and succinct yet personable, and give them all the necessary information. Your email communication should be an easy read for patients and answer frequently asked questions about your practice.

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Healthcare communication channel 2: Text

Text messages to patients are a quick and easy way to say, “Please confirm your appointment,” or “Don’t forget your upcoming appointment.” Patients who are comfortable with text messaging will appreciate this in their busy lives.

According to Open Market, 83% of Millennials appreciate text messages because they are instant and can be read or exchanged at any time. Millennials also think texting is a good form of communication because it is more likely to be read immediately — within 90 seconds of receipt — than other communication methods.

According to Sinch Message Media, text message reminders and confirmations have been proven to be successful in improving show rates for appointments and improving patient retention. The study showed that sending a text message reminder can help reduce no-show rates by 50%.

When used correctly, text messages are HIPAA-compliant and can be used in addition to other communication channels mentioned here. Send a text confirmation to confirm your patient’s appointment, and then again right before they are supposed to come into the office.

Healthcare communication channel 3: Patient portals

Patient portals allow patients to access their medical information at their own convenience. The accessibility and the effortless use of communication channels like patient portals lead to positive attitudes from patients and can help improve practice success.

According to a National Library of Medicine study, patients who consistently use patient portals are happy with them not only because they can use them at their own convenience but also because they feel they receive better care as a result of using the tool. Here are a few important ways a patient portal can improve patient retention and patient marketing:

  • Access information at personal convenience
  • Less administrative clutter for the office
  • Timely responses to FAQs
  • 24/7 access to medical records
Patient Perspectives Report

Healthcare communication channel 4: Social media

Social media is a communication channel that can be used to share helpful information related to your practice and specialty and answer common patient questions. It can also be used to promote discounts offered by your practice. You can include photos, links, and blog posts to keep your audience engaged.

Healthcare communication channel 5: Blogs

A blog can be a good resource for patients to read more about your specialty. It can also be helpful for patients to learn more about what’s going on in current news topics and can be a good resource for them to learn more about their own health. You can even promote your blog through emails and social media.

To keep your audience engaged, you should keep your blog up-to-date and post on a regular schedule. ”

To keep your audience engaged, you should keep your blog up-to-date and post on a regular schedule. You can include information about what’s new at your practice, current deals, or current news topics about your specialty or the health field.

Healthcare communication channel 6: Patient reviews 

Many providers avoid using review websites, often because they don’t know how to handle negative feedback. But studies show patients — particularly those looking for a new provider — check review sites often, so providers should integrate them into their patient marketing efforts.

Always remember to put your best foot forward to get the most out of patient reviews. It can be beneficial to reply to your good and bad reviews.

Use review websites to tell patients more about you and correct any misconceptions about you or your practice. And remember to never violate HIPAA guidelines when replying to reviews.

Use multiple communication channels to be effective

Improving communication with your patients via various healthcare communication channels can always prove valuable. Try new or multiple methods and see what works for your patients. This will help your long-term relationship and increase patient retention.

For more tips on how to engage with patients outside of the office, read about using technology to provide quality patient care at your practice.

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Karmin Gentili

Karmin Gentili has been a freelance writer and editor since 2016. She has over 25 years of experience in corporate HR and compliance consulting. She has worked to further elevate her skills by pursuing and receiving multiple certifications, including copywriting, video scriptwriting, effective content positioning, case study writing, and SEO. Her love of writing motivates her to use those skills to develop content for the medical field that ensures others can work toward achieving their goals.

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