“4 Cs” of Patient Communication: Content, Context, Channel, and Cadence

September 15, 2022 | Stericycle Communication Solutions

Having a system in place to send regular communications to patients is essential for reducing no-shows, helping patients stay on top of care, and keeping them satisfied with the services your organization provides. The benefits for your health system are equally important; protecting revenue by reducing no-shows, optimizing schedule fill rates, and creating predictable staffing levels are all positives for your bottom line. But not all messaging strategies are created equal. In order to assess whether patient communications are engaging rather than overwhelming or confusing, health care systems should consider the “4Cs” of effective communication: content, context, channel, and cadence.

Learn more about our patient messaging solutions.

Boost Patient Engagement and Retention with the Right Messaging

Let’s explore how optimizing the “4 Cs” can create the best messaging solutions to connect with your patients.



The content of high-quality patient communications is concise, meaningful, and easy to act on. Professionalism is also an important aspect to consider. Frequent typos or vague, confusing word choices can cause patients to question the capability of your health care system, if not the services themselves.

To deliver content that is meaningful for patients, it’s essential to tailor communications to the individual receiving them. Messages that address patients by name, for instance, are more attention-grabbing and encourage patients to continue reading. Customized communication plans and escalation protocols ensure that patients are receiving content that matters to them, personally.



Aside from delivering easily digestible and valuable content, the right messaging strategy should take the context of the patient’s journey through the health care system into account. This is why automatic reminders and confirmation emails for referrals, appointments, billing, and post-discharge follow-up instructions are so valuable.

It’s also important to consider the broader context of patients’ lives and diverse backgrounds by providing translations for your messages into other languages. Including calendar invites to book appointments and having clear Calls To Action [CTAs] embedded in your communications are especially helpful for busy, distracted patients who need to understand what actions should be taken right away.



You may be using multiple channels to communicate with patients: voice calls, texts, emails, videos, social media, and more. Depending on your patients’ demographics and preferences, some channels may be more effective than others at spurring a desired action, such as booking an appointment. Sometimes the channel of communication a patient indicates a preference for won’t be the same channel that motivates them to act. Phone and email have widely been shown to be the most effective ways of reaching patients, so offering both email and live voice services can increase engagement overall.



Previous patient surveys have indicated that most people want to receive two reminders for an upcoming appointment. Some newer data, on the other hand, seems to suggest that one reminder is enough. It’s important to gather data and feedback that helps you understand the optimal frequency for the types of communications your organization sends out. Controlling the cadence of your outreach keeps patients engaged with their providers and healthcare system without overwhelming them.

Feel Confident About Your Patient Messaging Strategy

Delivering relevant, useful, and personalized communications keeps patients engaged and satisfied with their care, but this isn’t always easy for growing health care systems to execute. Solutions such as referral management system and automated reminders, make it easier to deliver messages that drive patient action and adherence as well as impacting your organization’s productivity with predictable schedules and revenue protection.

Learn more about our patient messaging solutions. LEARN MORE.

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