One of the biggest needs of the healthcare industry today is effective communication with patients. Many healthcare providers notice low-patient engagement because they do not have effective communication methods with patients. Good communication is achieved through mechanisms like information exchange protocols and closed-loop communication. Information exchange protocols help structure communication automatically. On the other hand, closed-loop communication acknowledges the receipt of any information and communicates the same to the sender. It includes confirming with the sender that the information received is original and accurate.
Multiple studies have shown the efficiency of text messaging for reminding patients of their upcoming appointments. The same cannot be said for the scheduling of an appointment, though. At the most, when individuals are sent text messages for appointment confirmations, they will receive a message saying, “Text C to confirm”. Texting usually ends up becoming a one-way communication between the patients and the health care providers. While the patient will get text messages from the provider on different things, the patient will still have to call in to confirm, cancel, or schedule/reschedule an appointment. As such, one-way texting does not help reduce operations costs and burdens. The ideal form of communication is where both patients and healthcare providers can communicate with each other through one platform. For instance, when it comes to annual check-ups or vaccinations, most patients are informed they are eligible via text messages. It again begins the process of the patient having to call and schedule appointments. Instead, if patients can schedule appointments via an app, after being informed via a notification from the same app, it will make patient communication successful.
Most patients are not able to schedule their own appointments via texts and need to depend on phone calls. Multiple things can delay or prevent that phone call. Daily life and work pressures can further push the appointment date, with the patient eventually not scheduling the appointment at all. A good closed-loop communication platform leverages intelligent chatbots to converse with the patient via actionable SMS. This enables patients to complete the transaction immediately (scheduling/rescheduling appointments, confirming an appointment, etc.) without putting it off to later in the day. The platform prompts patients to enter preferred appointment dates, shows timeslots that are available in response, and confirms the appointment, all from one place. It also follows up with relevant patient instructions.
Usually, direct mail postcards get response rates between 4% and 9%. Hospital phone calls are generally ignored by most people. The one thing that can help healthcare providers successfully complete the scheduling process more than 70% of the time is Closed-loop texting.
Automated Platforms for Good Communication
An automated communication platform offers patients appointment slots to pull directly from the electronic health record and write back into Epic EHR in real-time. Simply integrating the platform is not enough; the platform must be embedded in Epic. It should have two-way access to the data, templates, and workflows set up in Epic. This way, if one patient cancels an appointment, the slot will instantly become available to another patient.
A good closed-loop communication platform like Intrado can take off a lot of burden from the healthcare facility staff, as it enables them to concentrate on important work like patient care.