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Posts Tagged ‘appointment reminders’

Prevent Patient No-Shows with Automated Appointment Reminders

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022

Missed medical appointments are not only bad for your business, but they can also negatively impact patient health outcomes. You can improve attendance and health outcomes without adding to administrative overhead by automating appointment reminders and customizing them according to patient preferences.

auto appointment reminders

Why Implement Automated Appointment Reminders

There are many reasons to introduce automated appointment reminders. People are busy, and many rely on digital calendars to stay organized. Many businesses outside the healthcare industry use digital appointment reminders to improve attendance and make scheduling and rescheduling appointments as easy as possible.

Changing Consumer Preferences

Most (88%) of customers said receiving automated appointment reminders via phone and text is important to them, according to a CVS Health survey. The rapid digitization of the healthcare system due to the Covid-19 pandemic has led patients to expect a healthcare experience that fits into their lifestyles. Reminders for haircuts, car appointments, and other personal care services are extremely common, and people expect that from their healthcare providers. In addition, communication preferences are changing. Very few people answer phone calls from unknown numbers. Instead, the majority of patients prefer less intrusive email and text reminders.

Improved Health Outcomes for Patients

As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Skipping appointments or delaying care puts patients at risk of developing more serious illnesses. Catching conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer early drastically improves prognoses and allows for less expensive and intrusive interventions. Most people don’t intend to skip medical appointments, but life happens. Sending timely appointment reminders before the visit gives overbooked individuals an opportunity to reschedule without a potentially costly missed appointment.

Reduced Administrative Overhead

If your administrative staff members are tasked with making phone calls to confirm appointments, automated reminders can allow them to prioritize other tasks associated with patient care. Keeping the phone lines open to help care for patients with urgent questions improves the patient experience and keeps staff members engaged.

How to Implement Automated Appointment Reminders

Most automated reminders are sent via email, text messaging, or phone calls. We recommend surveying your patient population to find out which communication methods they prefer. By sending the message according to their preference, it increases the likelihood that they will see it and respond appropriately.

Once that is determined, use a tool like LuxSci’s Secure High Volume Email or Secure Texting to integrate with your CRM or EHR and set up trigger points and reminder templates that pull information from the database. For example, maybe you find that five business days before the appointment is the best time to send the reminder. Patients need to have enough time to read the notification and reschedule if necessary. When the appointment is five days away, a message is automatically sent to the patient reminding them of the appointment. Ideally, this message will also include rescheduling options.

One caveat- notice that we mentioned “secure” email and texting. Appointment reminders imply information about health conditions and are PHI that is protected under HIPAA regulations. These messages must be encrypted and follow other HIPAA requirements for access controls, audit logs, and more. Review our HIPAA Compliance Checklist for more information.

What is a Digital Front Door?

Tuesday, July 19th, 2022

Patient engagement is a growing concern in today’s healthcare ecosystem. As many providers transitioned to telehealth during the pandemic, the concept of a “digital front door” evolved to describe how patients interact digitally with healthcare providers.

digital front door

Definition

The term “digital front door” describes an omnichannel engagement strategy that leverages technology to meet the needs of modern healthcare consumers.

With many people using online searches and digital tools to find new care providers, the term describes how patients first interact with a healthcare provider online. It represents how the patient journey is changing in response to consumer needs.

Just a few years ago, the design of a medical office was considered extremely important to the patient’s experience. Focusing on the digital front door refers to creating a positive digital experience for patients navigating a healthcare provider’s website, patient portals, and other online touchpoints.

Why utilize a digital front door?

There are many reasons to optimize the digital experience. Changing consumer preferences, healthcare staffing issues, and potential cost savings are just a few reasons healthcare practices are turning to digital solutions.

According to a study from Cedar, 41% of patients reported that they would consider changing providers for a better digital experience. Younger adults are four times more likely to switch than those over 65. Making it easy for people to schedule appointments, check symptoms, and refill prescriptions online can increase patient satisfaction and retention.

In addition, the ongoing healthcare staffing shortage is making it difficult for staff to spend time engaging with patients. Implementing digital engagement tools can empower patients to take control of their healthcare tasks and relieve operational burdens on staff members.

The prevalence of electronic health records means that patients can access, read, and add to their records through a well-designed patient portal. Using online intake forms, email messaging, and surveys can streamline processes and save time and money for healthcare practices.

The Benefits of Digital Front Doors

Some of the key benefits of properly designed and implemented digital front doors include:

  • Reduced patient wait times
  • Ability to interact with the healthcare system outside of regular business hours
  • Improved access and visibility into patient’s health records
  • Less paperwork and administrative waste
  • Reduced administrative costs
  • Focus on providing quality care compared to administrative tasks
  • Improved coordination and transparency between care teams
  • Improved feedback collection processes

What types of technology are involved?

No one specific technology is required to create an effective digital front door. Instead, different technologies are combined to create a positive user experience that matches the patient journey and meets the organization’s needs. Some of the technologies typically involved include:

  • Chatbots
  • Online appointment scheduling
  • Physician finder tools
  • Online intake forms
  • Personalized and automated email communications
  • Secure texting
  • Patient portals
  • Automated surveys

Of course, it’s not just about the technology involved but how it works together to meet the patient’s needs. Implementing tools that are difficult to use, don’t integrate, and are frustrating to patients will not deliver results.

An Example

Let’s use an example to illustrate how patients interact with a digital front door. Josh just moved to the area and is looking for a new primary care provider that accepts his insurance and is close to where he lives. He does a Google search and finds a provider with good reviews located only 0.5 miles away.

Josh goes to their website and uses a physician finder tool to search through the provider’s network of physicians to find one who accepts his insurance and is taking new patients.

Once Josh finds someone who is a good fit, he signs up to be a new patient and fills out a digital intake form. On the website’s back end, the provider automatically captures and stores these details in a secure, HIPAA-compliant database.

Josh then schedules an appointment online. He receives an automatic confirmation email, and a few days before the appointment, he also receives an email reminder.

On the day of his appointment, Josh can immediately see his physician because he has already filled out the intake forms online. The physician takes notes electronically during the appointment and refills Josh’s prescription. All this information is automatically added to his medical records. Before leaving the doctor’s office, a staff member helps Josh schedule a follow-up appointment for a few months later.

The same day, Josh receives a text message that his prescription has been filled and is ready for pickup at his local pharmacy. A week after the appointment, Josh receives an email asking about his experience and whether he has any follow-up questions for the physician. Thanks to the thoughtful use of technology, Josh was highly satisfied with his experience.

Conclusion

In today’s world, a solid online presence is not optional. Creating thoughtful online user experiences is essential to improving patient and provider interactions.

Increasing Operational Efficiency with Email Automation

Tuesday, April 12th, 2022

If you work in a busy healthcare practice, administrative tasks can create additional costs and barriers to care. Common communications like appointment reminders, billing statements, and other external messages take a lot of time to create and send. By automating these emails, it’s possible to increase operational efficiency and improve patient outcomes.

email automation

What is Email Automation?

Email automation allows organizations to automatically send emails based on pre-determined triggers or behaviors. Receipts, shipping notifications, password resets are all common types of automated transactional emails. The main message content is created in advance. Then, variables are used to insert custom information into the template automatically. Most importantly, the email is sent when a certain action is taken. Many people are familiar with automated emails in the form of receipts. For example, you make an online purchase and a receipt is automatically emailed to you with the exact details of your purchase. Next, we explore some examples for how email automation can increase operational efficiency in the healthcare system.

How Email Automation Works

There are many ways to utilize email automation to streamline patient communications. One example is appointment reminders. This is a good message to automate because:

  1. The message is generally the same for every recipient
  2. Variables can be used to customize the content: the patient’s name and the date/time of their appointment.
  3. There is a clear event to trigger the email (the date of the upcoming appointment).

Let’s look at an example of an appointment reminder email:

An administrator creates a template with the message content and layout. It may read something like: “Hi [patient name], This notice is to remind you of your upcoming appointment with Dr. Smith on [X date] at [X time]. Please call our office at 555-555-5555 if you need to reschedule.”

Next, connect the email program to a patient database, like an EHR or CRM. If properly integrated, it is possible to pull in the correct information to replace the variables (in brackets above) for the email recipient. For example, the if the email was sent to a patient named Jane Doe, the email program would pull in the correct details from her record to read: “Hi Jane Doe, This notice is to remind you of your upcoming appointment with Dr. Smith on May 2, 2022 at 1pm. Please call our office at 555-555-5555 if you need to reschedule.”

Finally, set up a trigger point to instruct the email program under what conditions to send the email. For an appointment reminder, the administrator may choose to send the email one week before the appointment, so the recipient has ample time to respond.

Once the template, variables, and trigger are set up, ongoing attention from office staff is not required. Each day appointment reminder emails will be sent out when the conditions of the trigger are met.

The Benefits of Email Automation

By automating common administrative email communications, it frees up staff time to focus on patients. Many healthcare providers still have staff members call patients to remind them of upcoming appointments. By automating this task, it streamlines operations and frees up staff time to focus on other tasks more directly tied to improving patient health outcomes. Using email (and/or text message) reminders can also help decrease no-show rates and reduce the costs of rescheduling.

Email automation is just one tool that can help streamline administrative workflows, provide cost savings, and improve the health outcomes of patients.

Don’t Forget HIPAA

Automated emails like appointment reminders, billing messages, and test results all contain ePHI and must be protected under HIPAA guidelines. Review our HIPAA guidelines for email and take steps to secure systems before starting to automate and send transactional emails containing ePHI.

Get Started with Email Automation

To get started, there are a few internal questions that need to be answered.

First, identify the data source- do you have a database or EHR that contains the information needed to trigger and personalize email messages? Next, how will these emails be sent? Do you have an email marketing platform with automation capabilities? Finally, how will these messages be secured?

Once these questions are answered, LuxSci’s Secure High Volume Email service can help securely scale your operations. Contact us if you are interested in learning more about automating email workflows for your healthcare practice.