Effective communication is an important part of the patient care equation. Better patient communication can lead to increased patient satisfaction and improved patient outcomes. In a busy healthcare practice, practitioners don’t always have a lot of time to spend with each person during their appointment. Fortunately, there are ways for even the most time-constrained practitioner to improve their patient communication.
Send Out a Welcome Letter
When a new patient joins your practice, make it a policy to send out a prompt welcome letter. Include information about practice hours, appointment and cancellation policies, and make sure your contact information is in a prominent location. If possible, send this both by email and mail to increase the odds of it being received. By setting expectation for patient communication right off the bat, you’re more likely to have successful interactions with your new patient.
Use Patient Satisfaction Surveys
After an appointment, provide your patients with a link to an online patient satisfaction survey, or give them a paper one to mail in. Consider keeping these surveys anonymous; you’re more likely to get honest feedback from patients if they don’t have to provide their names. Ask questions about their overall experience, and encourage feedback on how to improve your processes.
Offer Different Communication Channels
If your practice has a single phone line that is usually busy, your patients are going to be frustrated and less likely to reach out. In addition to phone and voicemail, consider setting up a practice email address and adding a contact form to your website. You can give guidelines for using these channels in your welcome letter. (For example, ask patients to always provide a name, date of birth, and phone number in any communication they send.)
Use Patient Education Materials
When you give a patient important information about their health during an appointment, they may be overwhelmed and might not fully retain all the details of what you’re explaining. Whether it’s guidelines for proper teeth brushing, basic nutritional information, or details about a specific medical condition, consider providing your patients with follow up materials. Create handouts or brochures, or obtain them from other sources, and hand these out to patients to review after their appointment. You could also make these available online so patients can access them any time.
Invest in a Patient Portal
One of the best ways to simplify patient communication is to invest in a patient portal. These portals allow you and your patient to access their health information from anywhere. Patients can see their medical history, view notes from their previous appointments, and request new appointments. Many portals also include a messaging feature, which gives you an additional channel of communication that is easy and central to use. These portals can be expensive, but the initial investment often pays off when you consider the decrease in administrative work. Bankers Healthcare Group can help you finance this and other improvements to your practice with a working capital loan.