patient outreach

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How to Refine Your Proactive Patient Outreach Strategy (Best Practices)

Peiru Teo

Peiru Teo

The process of a patient’s healthcare journey often starts with patient outreach, which is one of the most crucial steps. Patients choose a hospital depending on how fast and effective a provider reaches them. If you do not put in the effort to re-engage with your existing patients or attract new patients, your hospital can struggle to grow.

The highly competitive healthcare landscape and the growing consumerism have given patients endless options to choose their care providers giving the edge to providers that integrate the most effective patient outreach strategies.

A major mistake that most hospitals make is expecting the patients to initiate contact with them. This results in higher chances of missed appointments and no-shows to the hospital. Also, a doctor can nearly lose $200 per missed appointment.  

But how do automated patient communication technologies work? And how have organizations implemented them? The answer lies into crafting a proactive patient outreach strategy to enable you to leverage on technology and automation.

To maximize the effectiveness of an automated patient outreach program, you need to follow certain best practices to ensure that your patients are engaged during the care process. Let’s explore more about the primary modes of an automated outreach program and their impact on hospitals. 

What is Proactive Patient Outreach?

Patient outreach refers to any outbound communication to patients, whether manual or automated, to keep them engaged in their care, drive better adherence to care plans, and prompt them to take action.  It often involves contacting patients who are overdue for appointments, lab work, screenings, vaccines, or other preventive and follow-up care.

Patient outreach involves contacting your patients for scheduling laboratory testing, screening, scheduling, vaccines, follow-ups, and feedback. It also involves contacting patients who are late for appointments or did not show up for their appointment. 

Proactivity Is Key

To deliver a superior experience to your patients, you can incorporate personalized patient engagement solutions like: 

  • Automated appointment reminders 
  • Custom patient portals 
  • Secure platforms for contacting 
  • Online payment modes 
  • Health tracking applications 
  • Customized patient education materials 

Personalized and Proactive Patient Outreach: Key to Patient Engagement

An automated outreach process helps interact with the patients by using an interactive voice response system (IVR) via text messages or phone calls. IVR is designed to make outbound calls, which, if received by the patient, enable voice interaction without human involvement. 

Hospitals leveraging automated patient outreach solutions are seeing numerous benefits like: 

  • Extended Outreach Capabilities 

Compared to traditional calling, a healthcare system equipped with automated outreach technology has more capacity to reach its patients. An automated system helps make thousands of automated phone calls and send text messages per day. 

  • Increased Appointment Bookings 

A proactive patient outreach helps to book more appointments successfully, thus reducing gaps in the healthcare system. In addition, our technology enables you to automate appointment scheduling with limited effort. 

  • Higher Patient Satisfaction 

An automated patient outreach platform helps patients quickly and easily book appointments as per their schedule. Automation also ensures that your patients are notified about their appointments or follow up on time. 

  • Saves Time and Money 

Setting up an trigger based patient outreach frees up your staff from sending constant reminders to your patients and focusing on more complex tasks. 

How to Leverage Technology to Improve Your Patient Outreach Strategy

More than 80% of patients feel that quality service is the most crucial factor when choosing hospitals. Leveraging essential data of your patient by using different methods like patient journey mapping, personalizing communications, and segmenting patients drive more informed decision-making for patient outreach strategies. 

proactive patient outreach strategy
  • Map Your Patient Journey  

Patient journey mapping identifies and understands the highs, lows, and gaps in the patient engagement cycle. It eliminates the barrier between you and your patients and ensures that your doctors and staff are well-informed about the patient. 

To begin the mapping journey, map the touchpoints where and how your patients interact with your hospital. Once you identify your patients and group them according to various factors (e.g., diseases), use their EHR data to understand their experience along the care process.  

You can use customer relationship management to identify opportunities for engaging your patients during this journey. This approach will allow you to improve outreach strategies. Once on the right track, you can grow relationships at every step of patient care. 

  • Segment Patients 

To successfully implement automated patient outreach, you must understand patient needs. You can use data analytics to identify groups of your patients according to their EHRs. You can segment patients into numerous categories like:  

  • Demographics  
  • Communicable disease  
  • Genetic disorders  
  • Utilization history  
  • Desired outcomes  
  • Gender  

You can design different planning for resources, service delivery, and care arrangements by segmenting your patients. This ensures that your patients’ needs are met effectively and efficiently. 

  • Choose the Right Technology Platform to Automate

Automated patient communication and information collection can considerably free up time and energy spent on tedious, time-consuming tasks such as appointment booking, reminders, dealing with no-shows and payment reminders.

Healthcare chatbots are an amalgamation of AI and natural language processing, which learn algorithms and processes user inputs to generate a real-time response.

This is just the beginning of activities that chatbots can automate. Beyond personalized care-related communication activities, AI-driven, conversational chatbots also provide value in any care setting.

  • Hospitals are able to solicit patient information, streamline workflows, reduce wait times, and improve call center efficiency.
  • Post-acute facilities can use chatbots to proactively monitor patient health by soliciting vital patient data and providing care-related information. In the event a patient’s condition should indicate potential risk, chatbots can escalate the issue to a care team member.
  • Private practice is able to provide after-hours access to care-related information, scheduling, appointment reminders, improve workflow and reduce demands on front desk personnel.

Once you automate processes like information collection from your patients, your doctors and staff can spend more time on tedious tasks. To automate simple, repetitive tasks, you can opt for artificial intelligence (AI)-powered telehealth and virtual patient outreach platform. 

  • Communicate with patients with an Omnichannel Outreach 

Omnichannel healthcare outreach is a pathway for your patients to openly communicate with the doctors and have more control over their health outcomes.  

Once you find the right channel that is the most comfortable for patient engagement, allow your patients to choose the mode of communication. Give your patients multiple modalities to connect with your hospital and keep a check for which option is the best one according to them.  

An omnichannel patient outreach allows your patients to take some control of the situation, which, in turn, increases the likelihood of patient response.  

  • Optimize Schedules 

To make the scheduling process more manageable, you can opt for automated targeted outreach campaigns. It helps close healthcare gaps and streamlines the scheduling and rescheduling process. Here are a few ways the automated outreach program helps close healthcare gaps: 

  • Personalized Communication 

While bringing out customization in your care methods, first choose the area of care that needs attention. Once you know what needs attention, you can use correct data analytics to narrow down the number of patients in that group you wish to target. Then, you can further customize more depending on the patients’ needs and their location.  

You can easily use automated patient outreach strategies to cover your patient population. You can cover the entire population via emails and text messages sent by a secured and HIPAA-compliant one-to-one patient conversations.   

You can also use an automated outreach program to provide information on common or life-threatening disease conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, cancer, etc. These methods can assist your patients in taking action before their health condition deteriorates. 

Conclusion

With the rising competition in the healthcare field, proactive and automated patient outreach should be an essential part of your healthcare patient engagement.

Patient outreach is one of the many ways to enhance patient experience and maximize your revenue. Adopting an automated outreach program will put your hospital build a trustworthy relationship with your patients and create a path to long-term success. 

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