We live in a technology filled world that has changed how consumers and patients shop and pay for products and services. Consumers want convenience and this is supported with data from the InstaMed 2017 Annual Report revealing that “…71 percent of consumers who want to pay all of their healthcare bills in one place”.
A successful practice should implement technology as a marketing tool and platform to grow the number of patients, save time and money within the practice, and improve the overall patient experience.
Creating a Connection With Patients
Living in a digital era, more than 60% of people look to the internet for medical advice and to find practices and providers. Having a website that speaks to the patient and shares important information- such as services offered, pictures of the practice, treatments and background information about the providers- gives potential patients a look into what the practice is really like.
Posting a newsletter or updates on the website about changes, new services or announcements is an extra way of creating a relationship and communicating with patients. Developing social media platforms is another way that websites can be leveraged to connect with patients. Social media allows for more ‘shares’, reviews and comments, which in turn helps more people to learn about the practice and become potential patients.
Having a ‘frequently asked questions’ section on the website including helpful information about hours, location, directions, and scheduling information cuts down on phone calls and how much time the staff has to spend answering these questions by phone. This is a convenience that saves time for patients, as well.
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Posting helpful resources, blog content, downloadable information and brochures that promote healthy behaviors and wellness are all ways of forming that connection with existing and future patients. When patients feel connected to a practice, it builds patient loyalty and makes them feel valued.
Patient Portals & Accessing Online Medical Records
Having secure patient portals in place is another way of creating a connection with the patient. An online patient portal, linked through a provider’s website, allows patients at least partial access to their EHRs. A portal may also include personal information including appointments, medical records, and access to necessary forms to be filled out which can be accessed any time the patient needs.
The portal is a tool that allows for communication between provider and patient. Many portals offer secure messaging, appointment requests and prescription refills which all help to optimize workflow in the practice. Other benefits of patient portals include: reminders and lab work or test results sent directly to the patient. Providing records, communication and test results gives the patient ease, accessibility and control in staying informed and up to date on their health
Studies have shown the incredible benefits of the portal experience. Zach Wood, a Director at Cerner, emphasizes the power of communication between patient and provider, “Having bi-directional messaging between the patient and provider, not only is convenient on both sides, but it saves an administrative burden as well…being able to show that health record to the patient enhances the communication lines and provides self-service which is great for the patient and the provider”.
Online Bill Pay
It is estimated that 79% of consumers pay their bills online, so why should healthcare be any different? Having an online payment portal is a convenience that allows patients to pay with ease and flexibility. It also dramatically increases the likelihood of collecting payments from patients.
For many years, physicians didn’t collect the majority of their revenue stream directly from patients, before high deductible health plans, claims submitted to Payers made up most of their revenue. But since the influx of high deductible health plans hit the market, all of that has rapidly changed, making an online payment portal a necessity for providers looking to complete the revenue cycle efficiently.
Cutting down on having to mail patient statements month after month also saves time and expense within the practice. Paper statements slow down the entire process– taking days to weeks when, in contrast, e-statements are more efficient and take only minutes to send and deliver to patients. E-statements combined with online bill pay are a significant convenience for both the practice and the patients. Practices can use a cloud software such as PaymentCare to allow patients to pay online- when, where and how they choose.
For more reading on all of the benefits of online payments, check out another resource, 5 Reasons Physicians Should Accept Online Payments.