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By Ashok N

In the healthcare space there exists a number of different stakeholders, all of which have a vested interest in proactively engaging their customers. In Healthcare we are seeing large shifts towards patient centric services, fierce competition and increasing customer service expectations. There are a number of different use cases for proactive customer engagement in healthcare, each providing unique value for business growth and customer retention. With the end objective being business/profit growth, companies in the healthcare space are looking to maximize value from their existing customer base. As the old adage goes, it costs 5 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer. Proactive engagement allows healthcare businesses to interact, build relationships and provide value to their existing customers over time. As we look at the different use cases we’ll see that not only does proactive engagement result in customer retention, but also provides operational efficiency benefits for businesses.


Gaining a competitive edge

Healthcare practices are facing greater competition as consumer demand pressures practices to deliver a higher class of service. As these practices feel the heat from rising consumer expectations and fierce competition, they should not only be focused on customer acquisition but also on maximizing the value of their current customers. In any clinical setting, whether it be a small doctor’s office or a large health network, a large emphasis is placed on getting customers to their appointments. The reason for this is glaringly obvious, if the customer schedules an appointment and never shows, the business does not make money on the appointment. Simple enough, right? With no show rates in the range of 5%-10% of appointments booked, there is a lot of potential revenue being left on the table. By increasing the value from existing customers, healthcare practices will not only increase revenue but also justify the cost for new client acquisition, now with a much higher ROI per new customer. The solution provided by a proactive engagement strategy aims to reduce no show rates thereby providing a hard, quantifiable ROI. A proactive engagement strategy will be comprised of multiple channels, enabling the customer to interact, rather than just sending one way communications. One way this can be demonstrated is with a 2 way SMS interaction. In this scenario an automated SMS message would be sent to a customer the week of an appointment. This SMS would give a reminder of the appointment but also give the customer the option of replying “Reply to this message with ‘yes’ to confirm this appointment or reply with ‘no’ if you will not make it.”


Schedule Management

Patient appointment and schedule adherence is not only an important factor to maximize revenue, but is also critically important to maintain operational efficiency within the practice. The medical office or department will schedule their day based on the customer appointment schedule. If a customer no shows or is significantly late, doctors and nurses will not make efficient use of their time. In this scenario last minute walk in patients will also have to wait significantly longer than if the patient either showed or declined the appointment ahead of time. To ensure patients adhere to their appointments and are prompt, the above example of a two way SMS message would apply here as well. Additionally, more detailed information could be delivered, ensuring the patient is clear on the time and address of the appointment. For larger practices with multiple locations it will be important to confirm the correct location of the appointment. A new use case which is beginning to gain traction in the market is automated data push via online scheduling. In this scenario a first time patient schedules an appointment with a new primary care physician. Upon submitting the online appointment request, the patient receives an email with an attached PDF including all of the forms he or she will need to provide to the practice. This will greatly expedite the appointment for the customer and allow practices to operate more efficiently and see more customers within a day.


Take a proactive role in patient health

Customers are increasingly expecting their primary care physicians to take a more proactive role in engagement as ‘patient centered care’ becomes a largely adopted trend. The US population has become busier and more mobile than ever, with this, PCPs can provide value by proactively participating in their patients’ health interests through more regular engagement. Multiple stakeholders involved in the healthcare process have an interest in ensuring patients remain healthy and regularly visit their primary care physician. From a business value perspective we’ve talked about doctors and health networks, but health insurance providers also have an interest in keeping patients well. As the healthcare industry slowly transitions from a fee for service model to a fee for value/results model, preventative services are becoming largely emphasized. Doctors and insurance providers have a large interest in ensuring customers take advantage of services such as checkups, flu shots and mammograms. With a proactive customer engagement strategy spanning multiple channels, businesses can market these services more effectively and drive increased customer appointments.


Currently there is a lot of opportunity being left on the table in the healthcare industry. Proactive customer engagement used effectively will ultimately result in increased business value, but also, healthier customers in the long run. As competition grows between healthcare practices, it will be critical for these businesses to leverage their existing customer base to build loyalty and maximize revenue. The hard ROI attainable by adopting a proactive engagement strategy will become increasingly attractive as healthcare businesses explore technology solutions as a means to drive growth.

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