It's been approximately 10 months since COVID-19 gripped the nation, forcing delays and cancelations of healthcare appointments and elective procedures. The pandemic has taken its toll on healthcare, and health systems and healthcare marketers are now under increased pressure to fill appointments and get patients back in to see providers. Efforts are underway to improve patient engagement by identifying patients most in need of care, promoting virtual care and mental health options, and adjusting communication practices. But is it enough? Here are five patient engagement strategies to reengage your patients in their care.
In many instances, outbound communications from health systems are lacking. Now more than ever, patients have many unanswered questions about COVID-19, their general health, and the vaccine. This is why it's important that you communicate early and often with patients. Proactive communication helps drive patients to schedule appointments and helps make them feel comfortable with their upcoming visit—all while alleviating the communication burden from staff, freeing them for higher value tasks.
For example, have you developed a communication plan for COVID-19 vaccine readiness yet? Anticipate patient questions about when they will qualify to receive the vaccine, the number of appointments needed, and any potential side effects. Learn more about our COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling & Reminders solution.
Prepare Patients for Appointments
Once patients make an appointment, set expectations and prepare them for their upcoming visit. Be sure to communicate what to expect, including safety and practical details. Even routine or seemingly minor details about things like mask policies, parking, and more can positively impact patients' perceptions of visiting their healthcare provider.
If you've implemented virtual waiting rooms or other forms of contactless check-in, be sure to share instructions and information both before and at the time of patient visits. Determine how you will accept patient payments and consider implementing mobile payment. Options that help patients complete their check-in and checkout directly from their smartphone offer a safe, touchless experience, reduce no shows, and speed revenue capture. Learn how your health system can provide a more streamlined digital experience.
Utilize Health Risk Assessments
Employ health risk assessments (HRAs) to keep patients healthy. Online HRAs are a valuable patient acquisition tool that can help patients identify and understand health risks and monitor their health status over time. Using a questionnaire or other assessment of health status, then delivering personalized feedback, can help patients realize the importance of prioritizing their health—and ultimately, preventing disease. Learn how HRAs can boost new patient acquisition.
Consider ways that HRAs can help spur growth and encourage patients to return to care. Delaying care for too long can adversely impact patients' long-term health. Communicating the importance of regular care will help mitigate risks of disease and poor health outcomes.
Triage High-Risk Patients
Don't assume that patients will seek out care. Triage patients into risk levels and reach out to high-risk and/or chronic disease patients through broadcast messaging. Triaging patients into risk levels will help you effectively manage your schedule and enable you to customize communication campaigns for optimal action.
While you're segmenting patient groups, build a list of all the services you can promote. Promote virtual or telehealth options. Promote classes and educational offerings. Promote behavioral health and other supportive services. Make sure your patients know what services you offer and clearly communicate the different options they have to schedule appointments—both online and via phone.
Be Prompt With Follow-Up
Conduct post-visit follow-up and ensure patients are doing well. For example, with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, your health system should follow-up with patients and staff that have received the vaccine. You can monitor their well-being and monitor any symptoms they may be experiencing. Even more, you can remind those patients to schedule their next booster.
In addition, you can prompt patients to share their feedback and leave a review. Set up automated review invites to help you automatically gather more online reviews, then manage and respond to comments. Add a link for scheduling adjacent to your health system's profile on search results, prompting patients to take immediate action on their intent to see a provider.
With the ramifications of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, patient engagement has never been more important. In this current COVID era, health systems must make patients feel comfortable coming back and that starts with the right communication to the right people. To learn how we helped Greater Baltimore Medical Center boost patient confidence and page views during COVID-19, read our case study.