Consumer shopping habits have changed over the past few decades. Before the internet, you’d head to the nearest hardware store if you needed a tool. Perhaps you wanted a new outfit to wear to a fancy dinner party. Where would you go? Probably the closest mall.
It’s not only retail that’s been changed by the internet. Although it was one of the last industries to do so, healthcare has shifted dramatically over the past few years. Patients now shop for healthcare like many other products and services. So patient satisfaction has become the most critical business metric.
The internet and the proliferation of technology aren’t the only reasons for this trend. One of the biggest drivers is the cost of care.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) notes that annual national health expenditures are $12,530 per person. Nationwide out-of-pocket spending jumped 10 percent in 2021 to about $1,650 per person and is projected to continue to rise over the next few years. Missed medical bill payments are now the single largest contributor to personal debt in the United States.
The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t eliminate this problem, either. Nearly half of Americans are more concerned about healthcare costs now than before the pandemic. It’s no wonder many are taking action to reduce their medical expenses as much as possible!
The Healthcare Consumerism Trend
There’s a name for this trend of empowered patients: healthcare consumerism. It can be defined as people proactively using trustworthy, relevant information and appropriate technology to make better-informed decisions about their healthcare options, both within and outside the clinical setting.
Consumerism in healthcare regularly tops the list of medical C-suite priorities. It boils down to three main components: access, affordability, and experience. Patients want to have access to healthcare when and where they need it. Providers lacking a consumer-friendly strategy will likely lose patients and fail to sustain their business in an already competitive industry.
If you’re still utilizing outdated processes and technology in your practice, it’s time to modernize. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot, though. It simply requires some easy-to-implement changes geared toward patient expectations.
The Key to Streamlined Communication
A good place to start in modernizing your practice is where most patients start the process of care — your front office. It’s typically where patients experience their first impressions and can lead to a long-term relationship – or the opposite!
For example, most consumers don’t like to wait. Patients are no different, especially when calling their provider’s office.
Research has found that roughly 30 percent of patients are unwilling to wait on the line, with almost two-thirds hanging up after 60 seconds. Only about 30 percent of those individuals will actually call back. These numbers are a problem, especially when the average time for a patient to complete a scheduling call is 8.1 minutes, and agents transfer patient calls 63 percent of the time.
Even when patient calls are answered promptly, quickly getting them routed to the appropriate practice staff member can make a big difference in their experience with your practice. They don’t want to have to explain their request to multiple people.
In cases where a patient calls your office to leave a voicemail, it’s essential that your phone system is equipped with a properly-designed menu that they know will result in a returned call. No one wants to sit through multiple menu options just to leave a message about a prescription refill.
Only some patients want to call their provider, though. More than 95 percent of patients prefer texting for healthcare communication. Many healthcare providers have gotten the message — according to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), 68 percent of surveyed medical practices use text messaging to communicate with patients.
Many small and mid-size provider organizations don’t realize they’re missing out on potential new patients because they don’t respond to texts. That’s why your practice should use a telecommunications platform that can easily and securely manage texting.
Decisions about Digital Health Tools
There are many digital health tools on the market that enable patients to access healthcare more easily. However, not all of them provide the scalability to grow as your practice does.
When selecting new technology for your practice, verify that the solution offers the tools and information to empower patients and allows you to customize it for your specific business needs.
You don’t, of course, have to be a sizable practice to offer quality healthcare. But, you want patients to see you as a reliable provider with the resources to treat patients throughout their healthcare journey. This can be achieved through digital health solutions that enable you to complement your branding. With a more prominent brand, patients will more likely share their positive experiences with your practice with friends and family.
Customized Communication Through the RingRx Platform
Investing in technology to modernize your practice doesn’t mean you have to overhaul your office(s). Upgrading to a modern telecommunication platform lets you give your patients a positive first impression while reducing the administrative burden for you and your staff.
The RingRx platform — built specifically for the healthcare industry — offers various features that allow you to meet patient needs and expectations. For example, you can completely customize your call menu and greeting(s) to reduce the time patients spend on the phone with you. This personalization also gives you the ability to present your practice better.
Another bonus of the RingRx solution is the management oversight it offers. In addition to quicker call routing, the platform includes a feature that, once configured to meet your needs, allows anyone in the office to access each other’s calls and voicemails. If you’re away from your desk when an urgent call comes in, someone else can answer it for you and avoid a dissatisfied patient.
For practices that want the capability to receive texts from patients, the RingRx platform can be set up accordingly. That means not missing out on potential new patients because you don’t respond to texts.
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