How To Better Engage Customers in Healthcare

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Technology has a big part to play in our personal and professional lives. Right from the use of the wheel for transportation, or the telephone for communication, up until the use of artificial intelligence across disciplines, it has made things so much simpler. Likewise, every industry, whether it’s banking, education, telecommunication, or healthcare, has seen a multitude of changes. It has shaped the future of business and created positive experiences.

Let’s take a look at how proactive customer engagement has impacted the healthcare industry.

In the healthcare space, there are several stakeholders who have a vested interest in proactive engagement. Due to this, over the past five years, we have seen large shifts towards patient-centric services, fierce competition, and increasing service expectations. With the end objective being business growth, companies are looking to maximize value from their existing customer base.

Therefore, proactive customer engagement allows healthcare chains to interact, build relationships, and provide value over time. As we look at different use cases, you will see that not only does proactive engagement result in customer retention, but it also provides operational efficiency benefits for businesses.

“It costs five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one”

– Invesp

A competitive edge equals higher engagement

Clinics are facing great competition as customers constantly demand a higher class of service. Thus, their main focus should be on acquiring new customers while maximizing the value from their current ones.

In any clinical setting, whether it is a small doctor’s office or a large healthcare chain, a large emphasis is placed on ensuring customers get to their appointments. The reason for this is glaringly obvious. If an appointment is scheduled and no one shows up, the business makes no money on the appointment. 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 using a solution powered by a proactive engagement strategy, it can reduce no show rates and thereby provide a hard and quantifiable ROI.

A proactive customer engagement strategy comprises multiple channels, enabling the customer to interact with the business. One way this can be demonstrated is with a two-way SMS interaction. In this scenario, an automated SMS message would be sent to a customer during the week of the appointment. This SMS acts a reminder but also give them the option of replying to the message. For instance, the SMS can read reply ‘yes’ to confirm this appointment or ‘no’ to decline.

Proactive customer engagement

Schedule Management – The driving force behind any business

Patient appointment and schedule adherence are important factors to maximize revenue, but also critically relevant to maintain operational efficiencies. Medical offices or departments usually schedule their day based on patient appointment schedules. So, if a patient does not show up or is significantly late, doctors and nurses do not make efficient use of their time. In times like these, walk-in patients need to wait longer because a patient arrives late or doesn’t decline the appointment ahead of time. To ensure patients are prompt and adhere to their appointments, the example of a two-way SMS message applies here. Additionally, more 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 area which is beginning to gain traction in the market is automated data push via online scheduling. For example, a first-time patient schedules an appointment with a new primary care physician. After submitting the online appointment request, the patient receives an email with an attached PDF including all the forms he or she will need to provide at the practice. This will expedite the appointment and allow practices to operate more efficiently, thereby allowing them to see more patients in a day.

A step towards proactive healthcare

Customers are increasingly expecting their primary care physicians (PCP) to take a more proactive role in engagement as ‘patient-centered care’ has become a largely adopted trend. In the US, with their population getting busier and more mobile, PCPs can provide value by participating in their patients’ healthcare interests through more regular and proactive engagement.

As the healthcare industry transitions from a fee-for-service model to a fee-for-value/results model, preventative services are becoming largely accepted. Doctors and insurance providers are also 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 patient appointments.

Currently, there are a lot of opportunities being left behind in the healthcare industry. Investing time, money and effort into proactive customer engagement can effectively result in increased business value and healthier customers in the long run. As competition grows between healthcare practices, it is critical for them to leverage their existing user base to build loyalty and maximize revenue. In essence, hard ROI attained by adopting a proactive engagement strategy will become progressively attractive as healthcare chains explore technology solutions in order to drive growth.

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