By Stericycle Staff | Apr. 14, 2017

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In recent years there has been a significant shift in communication trends: patients expect healthcare providers to notice what other industries are providing their customers and replicate this shift to more convenient communication strategies. But unlike commercial environments, communications between patients and providers have governing rules and regulations. As a healthcare provider who is working to engage your patients in a digitally focused market, it is important that you understand the “rules of the road.”

  1. Update your Notice of Privacy.
    What is the Notice of Privacy? It is a document that your office should have on hand that outlines the ways in which your practice can and will communicate with each patient. Make sure every patient you see has signed your most recent Notice of Privacy. In doing so, patients are “opting in” to your communication strategies including email, voice, and text notifications.
  2. Notify your patients about ongoing communications.
    Put up marketing materials in your office to let patients know that you will be sending out messages, surveys, and other communications via email, voice, and text.

    These marketing materials should drive home the idea that patient/provider communication is just another part of their visit. By advertising these services, you are preparing patients for future communications. This will help to ensure that patients expect your communications and be aware of future messages.

  3. Add communication campaigns you expect to send to patients to your website.
    The best way to get patients in the door is to remind them to schedule an appointment. This type of communication can be extremely helpful during flu shot, back-to-school, and allergy season.
  4. Address the importance of patient feedback during the visit.
    If your practice wants to send surveys after each appointment to improve the patient experience, it is important to include this messaging during the face-to-face visit. By asking the patient to provide their feedback, you are preparing them to both acknowledge and respond to your email or text communications regarding your patient satisfaction survey.

You may ask – with all of these precautions, is it really necessary to engage patients? Absolutely. Here’s why:

  • Messages to patients, even those that aren’t appointment reminders, can help healthcare practices meet important requirements.
  • When patients know that email, voice, and text communication is a part of “being a patient,” they will be prepared for the messaging and more responsive.
  • In order for a healthcare organization to stay ahead of the game and keep patients engaged in a digital age, they must be able to reach patients through all three modalities.
  • Messaging regarding medication adherence, follow-up appointments, and portal usage is essential for reducing readmissions and keep patients healthy.
  • Preferred method of contact is not always the best way to reach a patient. Engaging through multiple modalities including email, voice, and text notifications is the most effective way to stay engaged with patients while ensuring they remain actively involved in their healthcare.

Communication in healthcare is changing and it’s important for practices to stay ahead of the game If you haven’t already, take the time to update your Notice of Privacy and communicate regularly with your patients where they are most active: on their devices.

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Author: Stericycle Staff

Stericycle has been delivering communication services to North American companies for over 25 years. Since 2011, we’ve been blogging about how to deliver best-in-class communications to patients and consumers – providing practical advice and current best practices for both healthcare and commercial organizations. We hope you enjoy and keep reading!
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