Medical Practice Management Ideas for Physician-Owned Clinics

Frazzled Medical Practice Manager dealing with many requests

“33% of Medical Group Management leaders plan to automate patient communications in some way due to staffing shortages.”1

 

If you’re a physician or practice manager, you’re likely tasked with medical staff schedules, bills, and patient responses.

With Hippocractic determination, you may have set out to provide value for patients and make a difference in your community. But how can you manage all these administrative duties while treating patient conditions?

Implementing effective medical practice software may improve your patient outcomes. With employee shortages and urgent requests affecting speed to care, we put together a list of ideas you can implement today. Let’s take a look at a few medical practice examples that others have found useful for improved workflows.

Medical Practice Management Examples

Larger Medical Group Medical Practices

Larger medical group management needs have a few differences compared to smaller, physician-owned clinics. They typically include multiple specialists, a large clinical staff, medical partnerships, and offices scattered throughout a city, county, or region. 

For example, Mid-Atlantic Nephrology Associates (MANA) had eight office locations which served twelve hospitals in their metropolitan city. With multiple locations, managing on-call physician schedules and patient requests were a challenge. Inefficient communication resulted in providers being contacted at the wrong time. Shared logins and passwords became inaccessible due to security lockouts, and practitioners were unable to share secure images and messages to accurately treat patients.

The needs varied from communicating the latest power outage to who was on which dialysis unit, where, and when. The practice managers did not have full control over the schedules, and there was no way of knowing when a schedule was updated. They were unable to match who was on call when and at which location.

After getting everyone on a unified communication system, the nephrologists were able to see lab results right away. Group texts were sent to the whole care team and medical staff, so they knew what to expect in case of early closures or emergencies. To improve patient response times, all practice managers received a backup notification when a provider didn’t respond within 48 hours. In this way, patient messages were never missed.

By putting these medical practice communication systems in place, the providers didn’t have to worry about their schedules being disrupted while off the clock. The organization was able to get everyone on the same page. The practice managers had full control over the schedules again, allowing them to update on the fly while syncing to each location and provider.

Physician-Owned Clinics and Specialties

Building reliable systems for a small practice now can help you when it’s time to scale. Aside from medical billing and medical supply inventory, an optimized communication flow between providers and patients forms the backbone for a physician-owned clinic’s success. 

Smaller medical practices often use medical answering services to inform patients and other specialties of holiday hours, weekly office times, and who to contact for which request. Much like the large group practice example, yet with fewer locations and reduced staff size. 

For example, one medical clinic needed to let patients know their Monday through Friday hours, lunch break from 12-1 PM, and who was on call for the weekend. They needed a way to check messages and follow up without the doctor being paged for non-urgent matters. For inpatient and outpatient critical lab results, physicians needed to access that information quickly and get notified about it.

After implementing custom voicemail prompts for inpatient and outpatient labs, office hours, and urgent versus non-urgent requests, patient callbacks improved. Timely messages were routed to the right on-call specialist. The office manager was able to login to the system each day through a secure app or web browser to verify and track messages. Any edits to the schedule went into effect immediately with their specific medical communication software.

Medical Practice Management Ideas

Effective and updated communication is instrumental for operating a medical clinic or group practice. You can have one provider and two part-time staff all the way up to and beyond 100+ physicians, nurses, medical assistants, and locations. Large or small, you may share these medical practice communication strategies with your medical team and administrative decision-makers, and see if it leads to positive outcomes.

Fundamental Medical Practice Management Thoughts

Consider who your frequent patients are versus one-time patients. What does the patient journey look like? Are there ways to enhance your process and decrease human error, such as billing needs, messages, and phone calls? 

From before check-in all the way to post-acute follow ups and pharmacy prescriptions, reminding patients, and communicating with them along the way alleviates confusion. Establish a clinical workflow plan for responding to patients, inquiries from other specialities, and care team members. Let’s take a look at a few ideas for implementing these practice management strategies.

Custom Medical Answering Service Software for Medical Practices

Use a custom voicemail message related to your type of medical specialty. Setting up automated calls and notifications can reduce nurse and physician administrative burdens, allowing them to effectively receive updates, read patient charts, and respond appropriately.

A few medical specialty examples:

  • An obstetrics and gynecology clinic may need to include call flow questions related to the number of weeks pregnant, patient’s doctor, and a reason for the call.
  • A nephrology clinic may need to ask about BUN, creatinine, and potassium levels before routing the call to the right provider. This allows time for the physician or nurse practitioner to pull up the patient’s chart or other remote patient monitoring stats.
  • A surgery center may need to route a call based on the patient’s surgeon, patient location, and reason for the call, such as post-acute treatment instructions. They may need to provide message prompts for an attending anesthesiologist schedule.

Providing patients and additional providers with clearly defined instructions ensures the message gets to the right person. Taking time to set up communication flows correctly can save medical practices hours of time later.

Applying Telehealth Solutions in Medical Practice Management

Does using a video telehealth visit mean I offer free medical advice? Not if you’re helping patients. Traditionally, clinics could only bill for in-person visits. The COVID-19 pandemic thrust virtual services into the forefront, changing how the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule works via telehealth.2 For billable hours and unique codes, check the most recent CMS policies regarding virtual services.

“Telehealth services can be provided to new and established patients via smartphone if the smartphone allows for audio-video interaction between the physician and patient.”3

With secure telehealth messaging, family medicine practitioners and other medical specialties can utilize video appointments for patient follow-ups. Video technologies may be used by the whole care team, and a primary care doctor and surgeon could hop on a simple video call to discuss their patient’s next steps. For a clinical psychologist or behavioral health center, this could be an effective way to form alignment between a therapist and physician.

Secure Medical Text Reminders

How do you handle patient no-shows? What if patients are ignoring your phone calls and not logging into their portal? Perhaps patients frequently call the office for non-urgent matters or office hour information—all of which could easily be automated. 91.1% of patients surveyed in one study mentioned secure medical text updates helped them avoid calling the office.

Image of Secure Medical Text phones sending messages

What kinds of texts are best to send?

For medical practice management, here are a few suggestions:

  • Appointment reminders including day and time of appointment.
  • Virtual check-in reminders before arriving at the medical office.
  • Quick ad hoc video visits as part of a patient follow-up session.
  • Reminder to login through the organization’s portal for the detailed physician notes or AVS (After Visit Summary).
  • Prescription refill reminders.
  • Group texts to medical staff for updated closures or emergencies.

Using a patient text solution, Ridgeview Rehab Specialties was able to reduce its no-show rate by 12.6%, generating an average of $175 per visit.4 This is one example of how streamlining medical practice communication can improve patient care outcomes and reduce hefty administrative costs. 

Need more ideas? Take a few minutes to read through these customer success stories. It might be the next step in your journey to effective medical practice management. 

1MGMA Staff Members. (2022, March 23). Outsourcing, automation may provide help to short-staffed practices. Medical Group Management Association. https://www.mgma.com/resources/resources/operations-management/outsourcing,-automation-may-provide-help-to-short

2CMS (2022). List of Telehealth Services. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-General-Information/Telehealth/Telehealth-Codes

3AAFP (2022). Coding Scenario: Coding for Telehealth Visits. American Academy of Family Physicians. https://www.aafp.org/family-physician/patient-care/current-hot-topics/recent-outbreaks/covid-19/covid-19-telehealth/coding-scenarios-during-covid-19/telehealth.html

4PerfectServe Success Stories. https://www.perfectserve.com/success-stories/ridgeview-rehab/

How Remote Patient Engagement Solutions Reduce Readmissions

“Clinicians often perceive these initiatives as additive work that doesn’t seem to provide immediately obvious benefits to patient care. Executives tend to emphasize how important patient flow is to the organization’s efficiency and finances. But that doesn’t address clinician concerns, and they struggle to fully invest in these initiatives.” -Nursing Executive, Advisory Board1

Digital Patient Engagement: How to Address Challenges in Adoption

Misalignment and miscommunication of strategies lead to challenges among healthcare professionals and their team culture. A reluctance to adopt new technologies may have consequences, such as reduced patient response times, physicians being alerted or notified when they’re not on call, or non-urgent messages being delivered in the middle of the night when they should be held until normal business hours. If used well, however, these remote patient engagement tools can drive a variety of positive patient outcomes.

Medical directors, managers, and hospital leaders may grapple with physician resistance to digital patient engagement platforms. Their hesitancy might include the following questions: 

  • How can medical practitioners engage and connect with patients outside of brick-and-mortar facilities? 
  • Will remote patient engagement solutions actually improve value-based care outcomes and reduce patient readmission rates, or is this another technology fad? 
  • Can virtual visits and updated monitoring systems be turned into billable hours?

A plethora of new virtual patient technologies are being introduced in the marketplace. Hospital and clinical healthcare administrators are looking for ways to reduce patient readmissions and eliminate wasted costs. Yet, providers may see these new technologies as an added burden to their daily, in-person patient engagement workflows. Swamped with increasing demands and pay-to-perform incentives, patients may get lost in the shuffle, especially those who require chronic care management or specialty visits.

Both patients and providers may have a lack of awareness when it comes to ehealth engagement technology.2 Let’s look at a brief history and understanding of patient engagement, and how you can walk away knowing what strategies you should consider implementing for your medical organization.

What is Remote Patient Engagement in Healthcare?

Remote Patient Engagement Defined

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is a broadly defined term which includes a range of digital tools that track a patient’s health. The information is sent back to healthcare professionals or caregivers to determine effective treatments. A few tech examples include heart monitoring devices, glucose meters, surveillance monitors, and digital reporting logs.3 

Remote patient engagement is the use of these tools and devices to communicate and follow up with patients in a secure, timely manner. These medical bands and devices are commonly used by physicians and practitioners to monitor chronic conditions and post-surgery assessments. Dieticians, therapists, and wellness coaches use these tools for preventive, proactive, and rehabilitative health plans.

Patient Engagement Before 2020

About 60 years ago, some of the first remote telemedicine technologies were developed by NASA to track the health of astronauts.4 As telehealth technology expanded, private companies and the government invested money and research into different healthcare delivery methods. Enter the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in 1996 and the Affordable Care Act (ACT) in 2010, which allowed more coverage for patients with chronic conditions. This opened the door for accessible and reimbursable patient visits that utilize remote patient monitoring and telehealth technology.

Patient Engagement After 2020

The consumerization of healthcare has accelerated, but the trend was in motion well before the COVID-19 pandemic. This fueled demand for healthcare organizations and providers to communicate more frequently with their patients and families. Sharing healthcare information digitally can accelerate speed to care, and 77% of patients are willing to do so if it positively impacts their care.5

In a recent interview, PerfectServe Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rodrigo Martínez shared that patient engagement technology adoption is a main need for healthcare organizations to stay relevant over the next decade:

Image of a doctor with a quote from Dr. Rodrigo Martínez

Patient Engagement Digital Platforms

The types of digital platforms that facilitate patient engagement vary widely. Some offer niche-specific chronic care and treatment, like Health Recovery Solutions, which tracks biometric activity, such as blood pressure and oxygen levels. Amazon has even joined the game with their Halo Band, which measures movement and sleep tracking. According to one study, 69% of respondents use smartwatches for chronic care management.6

List of Common Patient Engagement Devices

Like Gene Roddenberry’s tricorder in Star Trek, new medical devices are developed every year. One company invented DxtER™, a device designed “to prove the concept that illnesses can be diagnosed and monitored in the comfort of one’s own home by consumers without any medical training.”7 It was created to diagnose up to 34 different health conditions. While it’s not fully launched in the consumer marketplace, healthcare organizations and trained practitioners do use similar medical patient engagement devices.

Medical devices typically go hand-in-hand with a digital monitoring system for patient care, and for physician and nurse communication. Common devices used for patient engagement may include:

  • Wearable bands (Smartwatches, Fitbit, etc.)
  • Glucometer
  • Pulse oximeter
  • Electrocardiograph
  • Blood pressure cuff
  • Digital scale
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets or Laptops
  • DxTer Tricorder (Yes, inspired by Star Trek.)

Knowing these tools are available is one thing. Applying them in a way that enables patients to communicate with a physician or nurse is another. So how can a healthcare organization use patient engagement strategies to their full advantage?

Patient Engagement Strategies: Reach Patients Before They Get Readmitted

According to CMS, the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP) “encourages hospitals to improve communication and care coordination to better engage patients and caregivers in discharge plans and, in turn, reduce avoidable readmissions.”8 With 6 in 10 adults in the U.S. having been diagnosed with a chronic disease, patient engagement tools and workflows will remain a priority for healthcare organizations.9 An awareness of these needs, combined with actionable foresight, may reduce these readmission events.

Do You Have a Patient Engagement Strategy?

Create a plan to measure your patient outcomes, not just quick, transactional clinic visits. Identify which remote patient engagement solution is best for your providers—something that is easy to train and implement. Being proactive versus reactive with these tools could boost physician, nurse, and patient morale. 

What are the common goals your healthcare organization wants to achieve? Knowing this information can act as a filter for your patient engagement strategy plans.

Patient Engagement Example for a Chronic-Condition Specialty Practice

patient and doctor texting back and forth with medical messages

If you are a specialty practice, build common message templates related to your patient’s frequent needs, which, when delivered to the patient, allow them to respond and transition to a remote video visit initiated by the right on-call provider. Here is one example for a 65-year-old patient with a recent kidney disease diagnosis and low GFR:

Physician’s Office: “Thank you for calling Green Valley Nephrology Clinic. Our hours are 9 AM through 5 PM Monday through Friday. If this is an emergency, please hang up and dial 911. Otherwise, press one to leave a message, press two to schedule an appointment, etc.”

Patient: (Presses one) “Hi Doc. This is George. I’m calling about my test results and the blood draw you did for my kidneys. I can’t remember my login to look at it, and I’m not good with computers. Do I need to go to the hospital? I’m peeing more than normal and I have some swelling in my legs and feet. Let me know.”

Physician’s Office: (Call routes to the on-call physician. Message alert pings Dr. Shaeffer, the on-call nephrologist. He decides to send a text message back through a secure, front-office number that masks his personal cell phone). 

Dr. Schaeffer: (Via text message) “Hi George. I received your message. Do you have a few minutes to hop on a video call? I will send you a link.”

Patient: Yes, sure. Send me the link.”

Dr. Schaeffer: (Physician sends secure link.) “Here you go. [hyperlink]”

Patient: “Oh, there you are—got it. I see you now. Thanks for sending me the link. Wow, technology these days! So, do I need to go to the hospital?”

(Video conversation continues with patient and on-call specialist).

Scenarios like the conversion above may occur for any established, chronic-care patient and their physician. Let’s look at a few tips you could implement for your healthcare organization, so more patients like George can receive better care.

4 Ideas to Increase Patient Engagement

  1. Send frequent—but not too frequent—text reminders that are beneficial for the patient. Some examples include appointment reminders, critical lab results, treatment reminders, and clinic feedback questions. Let them know you care by using automated touch-points which save time for both medical practitioners and the patient in day-to-day interactions.
  2. When assessing chronic conditions, see if there is a way the patient can message you securely or log in to their health record to view the same data.
  3. Communicate a plan for the office staff and medical practitioners so they know what messages and protocols have been set up. This includes things like lab results, inbound voicemails, and which messages are critical versus non-critical for patient healthcare outcomes. 
  4. Coordinate schedules so all patients know at least one on-call practitioner can answer their questions. Updates to these schedules can be automated from the provider or administrative staff through a simple app, without chasing down a Google calendar or paper spreadsheet at the office.

For more ideas on how medical groups are using patient engagement strategies, see a demo of PerfectServe’s solutions for your medical practice or hospital.

1Nursing Executive Center. (2020). Engaging Frontline Staff in Patient Flow: Two tactics to engage clinicians’ hearts and minds [White paper]. Advisory Board. https://advisory-prod.azureedge.net/-/media/project/advisoryboard/shared/research/nec/success-pages/2020/engaging-frontline-staff-in-patient-flow.pdf

2Safi, S. Thiessen, T. Schmailzl, K. (2018). Acceptance and Resistance of New Digital Technologies in Medicine: Qualitative Study. JMIR Publications, 7(12). https://doi.org/10.2196/11072

3Delvecchio, A. (n.d.). remote patient monitoring (RPM). SearchHealthIT. https://searchhealthit.techtarget.com/definition/remote-patient-monitoring-RPM

4Gruessner, V. (2015, November 9). The History of Remote Monitoring, Telemedicine Technology In recent years, healthcare reforms and federal legislation has pushed forward the spread of telemedicine technology and other technological advancements. mHealthIntelligence. https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/the-history-of-remote-monitoring-telemedicine-technology 

5(2021, June 15). New Data from HIMSS Shows Rapid Digital Health Adoption Necessitates Personalized Patient Technology. HIMSS. https://www.himss.org/news/new-data-himss-shows-rapid-digital-health-adoption-necessitates-personalized-patient

6Neslon, H. (2021, January 22). Condition-Specific mHealth Devices Best in Chronic Care Management. mHealthIntelligence xtelligent Healthcare Media. https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/condition-specific-mhealth-devices-best-in-chronic-care-management

7DxtER™ A New Kind of Consumer Medical Device. Basil Leaf Technologies. https://www.basilleaftech.com/dxter/

8(2021, December 1). Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP). CMS.gov. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/AcuteInpatientPPS/Readmissions-Reduction-Program

9(2022, January 24). Chronic Diseases in America. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/chronic-diseases.htm

Ochsner Health Drives Physician Engagement, Reduces Burnout With Better Schedule Management

The subject of healthcare burnout is not new. In fact, according to the KLAS “Clinician Burnout 2021” report¹ published in December, burnout levels are higher than ever, with the pandemic being a prime contributor:

For physicians in particular, KLAS notes that one of the biggest contributors to burnout is having no personal control over their workload. Taking care of patients is rewarding, but doctors aren’t robots—they need to rest and recuperate, and during times of elevated stress, they need to know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

At the recent ADVANCE 2022 conference hosted by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, New Orleans-based Ochsner Health presented research and findings² that demonstrate how PerfectServe’s Provider Scheduling powered by Lightning Bolt can help to stem the tide on burnout and loss of control.

At Ochsner, Lightning Bolt “significantly improves physician engagement and reduces burnout by creating fair and flexible schedules that support work-life balance—even during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The results presented by Dhruv Choudhry, M.D., lead author of the study and anesthesiology resident at Ochsner, are powerful:

1. Six months after implementing Lightning Bolt for a department of 60 anesthesiologists, a Press Ganey survey revealed that their average engagement score had increased by nearly 30%, from 3.3 to 4.2 out of 5. This was one of the largest increases across the Ochsner Health system.

2. Lightning Bolt drove this increase by granting more vacation days, reducing ungranted vacation days, and providing more predictability and flexibility than the prior staff-created scheduling system.

3. Compared to the previous manual scheduling process, which required 60 to 75 staff hours per month on average, Lightning Bolt auto-generates “the best schedule for the department” in just 14 hours. Collectively, that’s two and a half days of staff time saved per month and 30 days saved over the course of a year.

Anecdotally, Dr. Choudhry also reported that Lightning Bolt gives anesthesiologists  “one or two mornings and one or two afternoons off a month to allow for increased work-life balance so they are better able to attend events important to them.”

Talking more specifically about the pandemic, Dr. Choudhry noted that Lightning Bolt allowed Ochsner to quickly and seamlessly build schedules for COVID ICUs as they were opened. Physicians could also indicate in the system whether they preferred to work in the operating room or the ICU, which added a degree of control to an often-uncertain situation.

In addition to the results Ochsner presented at the conference, the organization has seen other notable improvements after implementing Lightning Bolt:

  • Auto-generation and publication of schedules through Lightning Bolt saves Ochsner roughly 720 hours per year versus previous scheduling methods.
  • Vacation request approval has increased by 55%.
  • Lightning Bolt has improved OR case handoffs, saving Ochsner $600,000 per year.
  • The use of reporting has allowed for greater transparency and helps physicians to better understand equalization rules. For example, it’s easy to demonstrate that weekend work is being evenly distributed to avoid any one person feeling like they’re shouldering too much of the load.
  • Integration with Epic On-Call Finder has improved transfer center operations and yielded better speed to care for patients.

Taken as a whole, Ochsner’s experience with Lightning Bolt is a strong endorsement of advanced scheduling technology and the many ways it can improve the lives of providers, staff, and patients. When providers have more control of and better visibility into their schedules, and when they know those schedules can be built equitably while accounting for their personal preferences, they are more likely to be satisfied at work. Greater provider satisfaction often leads to better patient care, better retention, and better metrics across the board.

We thank our friends and partners at Ochsner not only for presenting their findings, but also for reminding us that healthcare technology has the power to change, improve, and even save lives every day.

Ready to learn more about transforming your organization through better scheduling?

Citations

  1. Clinician Burnout 2021, KLAS Research Arch Collaborative, Jacob Jeppson, Dec. 3, 2021: klasresearch.com/report/clinician-burnout-2021-covid-19-increasingly-cited-in-rising-burnout/2080
  2. Using AI to create work schedules significantly reduces physician burnout, study shows, American Society of Anesthesiologists, Jan. 28, 2022: asahq.org/about-asa/newsroom/news-releases/2022/01/using-ai-to-create-work-schedules-significantly-reduces-physician-burnout

Develop a Clinical Communication Governance Strategy

Ensure the investment you’ve made is used and adopted as intended

Governance is an important tool organizations use to ensure that software implementation and adoption aligns with business goals and complies with external regulations. A good governance program offers a framework for achieving measurable progress toward organizational objectives and maintaining compliance standards.

Adding to operational complexity, organizations now operate in an environment defined by distributed networks, distributed teams, and cloud-based everything, and a rapidly expanding big data ecosystem that’s becoming increasingly difficult to control.

A good governance system addresses these issues and is designed so that assets such as clinical communication tools provide maximum value to healthcare organizations and patients.

To make governance work for your organization, we’ve developed a checklist to help you manage your Clinical Communication Governance Strategy.

Support Nurses Ability to Easily Communicate with Providers and Patients

Siloed communication infrastructure adds to nurse’s workload when they desperately need ways to reduce their administrative responsibilities. Empower nurses to communicate with each other, providers, and patients without logging in and out of several solutions to do so.

Reaching Providers and Patients’ Family Members Consumes Time

Nurses are responsible for multiple administrative duties on top of providing an upstanding standard of care for their patients that requires an abundant amount of collaboration and support.

Some nurses spend 33% of their shift interacting with technology and only 16% of their time on direct patient care.

Updating family members, getting a hold of the correct physician in a timely manner, communicating with respiratory, physical therapy, radiology in addition to coordinating with the nursing staff on their unit are just a few of the communications that happen throughout the nurses shift.

The time consumption initiating communications with different departments and providers could be precious time taken away from a patient’s care. A bandage may be left for the next shift to change, medications get administered later than ordered, patients miss a day of physical therapy because the nurse was unable to pull away from other tasks to help PT. Ultimately, the administrative burden nurses are under unfortunately can result in poor patient outcomes.

Tackling Nurse Communication Silos

Text, badge, EMR, email, phone – too much technology reduces efficiencies. When nurses need to login to the EMR for a critical lab result, phone a patient’s family member, use their badge to communicate with other nurses and then text the on-call provider regarding their patient, too much time is spent logging in and out of various solutions. Efficiencies can be gained just from reducing the number of technologies nurses need to use and reference.

The result – both improved nurse satisfaction and improved outcomes for patients. We want to reduce frustrations nurses encounter day to day, and streamline communication for all care team members.

With family members the inefficiencies are similar, find the correct number, call, no answer, leave a voicemail. Or find and call the alternate phone number and speak with a family member who has 20 minutes of questions, while the nurse is on the phone, the physician has returned the page and the nurse missed their call due to the fact that the nurse was on the line with the family member.

Clinical Communication Governance

Leading organizations have clear policies around communication response times, such as a routine message must be responded to in 60 minutes but an urgent message within 30 and STAT within 15. This becomes increasingly difficult without the right, and siloed, communication tools.

Text First Approach

82% of text messages will be read within five minutes of being sent—with an average response time of just 90 seconds.

A text first approach for all clinicians provides a single app to be used for nurse, provider, patient and auxiliary staff to ensure tight coordination of patient care. Look for a solution that also embeds into the EMR to improve clinical workflows. Nurses should be able to see a patient record from their mobile, the communication stream between care team members, critical lab results and any other pertinent details that will keep them abreast of their patient from any location—decoupling them from the nurse station.

Connect with our team to learn more.

HIPAA Compliant Texting: Tips on Patient Communication

With the number of smartphone users in the U.S. expected to cross the 300 million milestone in 2022, it’s now possible to connect with anyone at almost any time.1 This digital transformation gives healthcare providers, patients, and family members a great opportunity to communicate during and after care.

Here are some ways HIPAA-compliant secure messaging can help, especially during times when going to hospitals and medical practices in person isn’t always an option.

HIPAA Compliance Rules Explained for Healthcare

The rules for HIPAA compliance in healthcare prohibit medical providers—including physicians, nurses, and staff—within the practice from releasing protected health information (PHI) without the consent of the patient or guardian. All health organizations are required to train their staff annually on how to comply with HIPAA regulations. With the installation of HIPAA-compliant software like PerfectServe, providers can safely integrate patient communications in secure clinical messaging.

Healthcare Before HIPAA

Have you ever wondered what healthcare was like before HIPAA? Before the introduction of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did not have a National Health Privacy Law, and patients relied on laws in each state about patient privacy. HIPAA was created to set national standards to protect PHI from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.2

Healthcare After HIPAA

After HIPAA was established, medical providers had new guidelines for protecting patient information, regardless of their practice size or specialty. Today, HIPAA requires all practices to attain patient consent forms to use PHI for healthcare delivery, payments, practice communications, and other uses of PHI for marketing or research purposes.3

How Does Secure Patient Communication Work?

Traditionally, practices and medical providers have been forced to use multiple platforms to achieve secure patient communications. Ensuring all information on multiple platforms is current and correct requires more staff and time. Now, they have options to streamline the workflow for health information, provider communication, reminders, HIPAA-compliant texting, and patient records all within one platform.

Voicemail and Phone Message Prompts

Different medical practices use voicemail and phone message prompts as conduits for communicating securely with their patients. But this method of communication is often cumbersome, requiring a lot of follow-ups and tracking, which leaves the door open for missing information. Practices have often found a positive response in patient satisfaction, appointment scheduling, and overall communication when switching to a streamlined and secure messaging patient platform.

Secure Medical Texting

Smartphones are veritable Swiss Army knives these days—they’re used for communicating, maintaining calendars, browsing the internet, wayfinding, and many other tasks or activities. To emphasize the immediacy of contact when smartphones are in play, one research article indicated that 90% of people read a text message within the first three minutes, whereas emails are often overlooked.4 Allowing communication between healthcare providers through secure HIPAA-compliant texting creates a win-win for not only the patient experience, but also the medical practice managers and hospital staff.

Secure Clinical Messaging for Better Patient Communication

PerfectServe provides HIPAA-compliant secure texting solutions to empower clinicians to text nurses, physicians, patients, and family members all in one app that can include attachments, videos, and more for communication purposes. As medical providers, it’s crucial to obtain accurate, up-to-date information and reminders for each of your patients.

Text Messages Help with Patient Reminders

One PerfectServe client, Ridgeview Rehab Specialties, was able to reduce no-show appointment rates by 12.6% using automated secure text messages to patients. Ridgeview reported 6,264 no-show appointments in 2016 and realized it was imperative to make a change using new technology to streamline messaging. Over two years, the switch to secure text reminders resulted in more patient engagement and fewer no-show appointments. Overall, the facility was able to reduce no-show appointments by 792 annually with an estimated revenue gain of $138,600.5

Providers Can Message Patients on the Fly

Having access to reliable connectivity across locations makes it easy to deliver timely communication and care. Providers can use secure video, voice, and HIPAA-compliant text messaging from specialty practices to the hospital staff while using a phone, tablet, pager, computer, or landline. Organizations with more advanced PerfectServe deployments have even embedded the communication platform directly within the EHR, which allows providers to cut back on time spent toggling between devices and other apps by up to 76.3%. Imagine being able to admit a patient into the ER, receive blood work, and contact their primary care physician all within one platform.

Integrations are another key differentiator that set PerfectServe apart from similar HIPAA-compliant texting apps. Unnecessary provider disruptions can be avoided by integrating schedules with workflow engines, and integration with the EHR to incorporate information like patient lists unlocks a wide number of valuable workflow capabilities. Integration with the nurse call system frees nurses from the bedside by giving them the ability to monitor and respond to patient alerts and requests from any location, especially if they’re equipped with smartphones.

PerfectServe provides secure messaging, connectivity from any location, accessibility on all devices, embedded EHR messaging, automated routing, and improved workflows all from one easy-to-use application.

For more information, read how secure text and video messaging helped other practices communicate effectively across the care continuum.

1O’Dea, S. (2021, March 19). Number of smartphone users in the United States from 2018 to 2025 (in millions). Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/201182/forecast-of-smartphone-users-in-the-us/

2(2018, September 14). Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/phlp/publications/topic/hipaa.html

3Kibbe, C. (2001, March 8). What You Need to Know About HIPAA Now. Family Practice Manager, 8(6):43-47. https://www.aafp.org/fpm/2001/0300/p43.html

4Lane, N. (2010, June). Conversational Advertising. MobileSquared. https://mobilesquared.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Conversational-Advertising.pdf

5PerfectServe Success Stories. Ridgeview Rehab Specialities department reduces non-show rates by 12.6% with automated text messages to patients. https://www.perfectserve.com/success-stories/ridgeview-rehab/

AnesthesiaGo: How Software Can Help Operating Room Scheduling

Healthcare is a noble profession, but as many will attest, clinicians still have to overcome far too many daily obstacles to do what they were trained to do—treat patients.

Eliminating these obstacles with smart technology has been PerfectServe’s remit for 25 years. To be sure, medicine will always require some level of human oversight, but when you can automate manual processes that cause delays and add frustration, you’re going to make clinicians very happy. 

Provider Scheduling has been doing this for years by automating the creation of provider schedules, and the newest solution to join the PerfectServe fold—AnesthesiaGo, which auto-generates daily OR case schedules—is cut from the same cloth.

Disrupting the Operating Room Case Scheduling Process

When AnesthesiaGo’s founder, a practicing anesthesiologist by the name of Dr. Mike Bronson, was unexpectedly given the responsibility of building daily OR case schedules for his group, he came face to face with a vital process that was in desperate need of a revamp.

Image of Dr. Mike Bronson

This responsibility is usually given to a senior anesthesiologist, and it’s normal to find them building the next day’s schedule in the late afternoon or early evening—after they’ve dispensed with their clinical duties. Depending on the size of the group, it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to a few hours to finish this process. After the schedule is sent out, it’s also inevitable that the creator receives texts, phone calls, and emails requesting revisions.

Taking on this kind of tedious task after finishing a day of procedures is, to say the least, not ideal. And that’s why Dr. Bronson was convinced he could do it better with technology.

With help from a friend who had deep experience in the fields of data analytics, advanced algorithms, and UI/UX designs, Dr. Bronson spent four months studying past data and figuring out different ways of scheduling. The next ten months were spent building the basic solution infrastructure, laying a foundation for the algorithms, and then optimizing said algorithms.

Image of clocks and provider schedules

Case Scheduling with AnesthesiaGo

The solution born from all of this work, AnesthesiaGo, has four main goals:

  • Be Faster: Save hours (or even days) each week by cutting time required for schedule creation.
  • Use Automation: Leverage technology to reduce administrative burden.
  • Reduce Human Error: Minimize double-bookings, scheduling someone at a location for which they’re not credentialed, not leaving enough time for travel between locations, etc.
  • Improve Efficiency: Find a better way to create daily case schedules.

To put it simply, AnesthesiaGo aligns the best anesthesia provider to the best case schedule, promotes efficiencies and transparency for all surgical staff, and helps prevent delayed or canceled cases associated with less optimal—but still very common—manual scheduling methods.

12 Minutes to deliver care

The proof is in the pudding, too. AnesthesiaGo customers can now auto-generate and deliver a daily case schedule in just 12 minutes on average, which is down by 44 minutes versus traditional manual scheduling methods. That’s almost an 80% improvement!

And taking it a step further, AnesthesiaGo also leans heavily into provider wellness by supporting the concept of teaming (sometimes called “best matches”). For a variety of reasons, it’s common for anesthesiologists and surgeons to have well-defined preferences about who they work with during a procedure, and AnesthesiaGo will pair these optimal teams as frequently as possible. It sounds pretty simple on its face, but by including this functionality, AnesthesiaGo helps to improve provider satisfaction and wellness while facilitating continuity of care.

Anesthesiologist and Medical Providers with a Checkmark

In an interview with AIMed, Dr. Bronson noted that anesthesiologists often deal with life-threatening, traumatic events. But despite the high stakes of their clinical duties, “the most stressful part [of our jobs] is not about saving lives, but handling the paperwork that needs to be completed in the shortest possible time.”

AnesthesiaGo can make that stressful paperwork a thing of the past. Learn more about our Case Scheduling for Anesthesia Staff, or fill out the form below if you’d like a member of our team to contact you for a demo.

How to Improve Medical Response Times for Nurses

We sat down with three PerfectServe nurse leaders to understand more about the heart of a nurse and how they can improve workflows in both acute and post-acute care settings. Watch the interview below on your next 20-minute break.

Read more about nurses communication and collaboration daily needs.

Recognizing the Heart and Role of Nurses

Did you know cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death among women in the United States?1 To raise awareness about this epidemic, the American Heart Association recognizes women’s cardiovascular health every year in February. Women account for 85% of the nursing workforce and as much as 90% in other healthcare occupations, such as medical assistants, nurse midwives, and speech pathologists.2

One of the core principles—you might even call it the heart—of the nursing profession is having the compassion to care for others. But who is taking care of nurses to reduce the stresses and strains associated with their work? They’re the backbone of the care team, and they’re in need of tools that allow them to provide care as efficiently and effectively as possible. 

When caring for a critically ill patient, being able to quickly and easily send a message to the right care team member may relieve elements of the daily exhaustion nurses face. There are two effective ways to facilitate this: (1) having an accurate real-time on-call schedule and (2) integrating a secure text messaging system that reduces the number of steps to communicate with providers and patient family members.[/vc_column_text]

I think it’s about taking barriers out of the way for our clinicians and our nurses and the entire care team to do what needs to be done, you know, with a limited amount of time, we have to break down barriers and make things easier.

-Annie McCoy, Enterprise Account Executive

 

Improve Medical Response Times with an Accurate, On-Call Schedule

A nurse’s time is far too valuable to be spent on looking for an up-to-date physician on-call schedule at the nurses’ station. Imagine a nurse flipping through a morning schedule (that has since changed) dangling from the wall. She takes several minutes to look up how a provider wants to be contacted at that particular time of day, further delaying response times and treatment for a patient. Later, the nurse finds out the provider she paged is no longer on call, and now she has to page someone else, first by repeating the manual process of looking up schedules.

In the meantime, the patient’s symptoms are worsening, the patient’s family is becoming increasingly anxious, and the nurse is fatigued—juggling the patient’s needs and the family’s concern while tracking down the right provider is a delicate dance. To put it simply, it’s exhausting when you don’t have tools that seamlessly facilitate the most basic—but still important—elements of your job.

To ensure timely patient care and protect clinicians from burnout, it’s important to have an accessible, dynamically updated on-call schedule that can be tightly integrated with your organization’s secure messaging solution. This simplifies the process to initiate communication between nurses and providers.

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Time saving is both in acute and the ambulatory space. Who was on call? Who was covering that unit? It can be a web that is very difficult to untangle. Where we need to be headed is more engagement into the patient and family member. How do we take a congestive heart failure patient?…They need to see these details beyond the acute and ambulatory side of things.

-Kelly Conklin, Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer

 

Helping Nurses by Using a Secure Text Messaging Solution

Many technologies, like pagers and walkie talkies, can be tedious, unreliable, and not well-designed with clinicians in mind. For nurses, minutes matter, and all of these seemingly minor inconveniences and delays can add up fast. This increases stress on a nurse’s heart, as well as the heart of their patients.

Heart Issues in the Emergency Department (ED)

Consider STEMI: the primary focus of care is to restore blood supply to the heart as quickly as possible. If nurses can expedite notifications and coordination of care, the better outcomes the patient will have and a higher likelihood for survival.

Several steps are required to manage patients with STEMIs, and a variety of care team members need to be notified along the way. 

For example, the EMS notifies the ED charge nurse of an incoming patient with chest pain. An ED provider needs to be assigned to care for the patient. An ED nurse is needed to prepare for the patient’s arrival. An ED Tech is needed to perform the ECG, and patient registration needs to register the patient. Pending the results of the ECG and laboratory studies, further communication is needed to activate the cath lab team and the on-call cardiologist to re-oxygenate the heart as quickly as possible.

All of these steps require the ED charge nurse to maximize coordination and notifications to the appropriate team members to ensure the patient receives timely care. A secure messaging platform integrated with the on-call schedule expedites the process of notification to the ED team, cath lab, and cardiologist during these critical events.

Additionally, when EMS uses a secure messaging platform integrated with the on-call schedules, this supports communication of a STEMI diagnosis and preactivation of the cardiac cath lab team while en route to the hospital. The results of the ECGs can be shared with the ED provider or cardiologists to confirm findings. 

This direct communication determines if the patient is eligible to bypass the ED and be transported directly to the cardiac cath lab. Bypassing the ED not only reduces the burden on already strained ED resources, but saves the patient time that is needed to reperfuse their cardiac tissue, improving outcomes, and decreasing mortality.

They have a tool that can mimic the technology in their day-to-day lives. It takes up to 10 years to catch up to technology in healthcare. Real-time technology helps nurses. The last implementation feedback: “This is so easy.” They can just pick up this device, communicate in real-time, at their fingertips. It’s amazing to hear. They don’t like to hear, “Not another technology you’re making me learn again.”

-Michelle Hamland, Senior Clinical Consultant

 

Give a Nurse’s Heart a Break: Strengthen Their Workflow

At PerfectServe, we’ve spent 25 years improving patient care by listening to the nurses and doctors that perform patient care. Time-sensitive emergencies, such as STEMIs, require quick decisions. Nurses equipped with efficient communication technology and scheduling solutions reduce common barriers in their everyday workflows.

For more information, read how other hospitals have used automated, real-time communication to decrease rapid response times and improve communication workflows for nurses and clinicians.

1American Heart Association. The Facts About Women and Heart Disease. https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-heart-disease-in-women/facts

2Cheesman Day, C., Christnacht, C. (2019, August 14). Women Hold 76% of All Health Care Jobs, Gaining in Higher-Paying Occupations. The United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/08/your-health-care-in-womens-hands.html

Healthcare Trends in 2022: Top 6 Needs to Consider for Medical Groups

The pandemic has accelerated some of the healthcare trends that were on the rise before 2020. In our interview with Dr. Rodrigo Martínez, practicing otolaryngologist and Chief Medical Officer with PerfectServe, and Matt Kothe, Manager of Corporate Communications, they unpack the six factors healthcare organizations need to understand for their staff and patients.

Read below for a deeper explanation of these trends and needs expressed in the interview with Dr. Martínez.

Digital Transformation Management

Digital tools allow individuals to send messages through methods like HIPAA-compliant secure messaging. Whether it’s between clinicians, or to patients and family members, it’s crucial to implement a controlled workflow for this communication. Without digital management in your healthcare system, you run the risk of potentially overwhelming clinicians, which is less than ideal given observed burnout levels across the industry.

When a patient takes time to log into a portal and send a message, not getting a timely response can dissuade them from trying to engage with their healthcare provider in the future. If that patient includes important medical information and nothing is being done, it can have devastating consequences.

Here are a few questions an organization can ask when setting up new technologies:

  • Is someone sending a message to someone else? 
  • If yes, who is it going to, and who is responding? 
  • Does the current workflow include the appropriate recipient?

Developing basic workflow hygiene will help, especially when the communication involves time-sensitive medical issues. 

Adapt to Competitors

With consumer behaviors evolving, the ability to create a better patient experience is key to the success of your organization. Competitors like large retail pharmacies now offer on-site healthcare services, with customized, easy reminders and interfaces for patients. They are leveraging technology to provide all-encompassing healthcare services—a push health systems can no longer ignore.

A few examples:

  • CVS Pharmacies now have the ability to schedule appointments and exchange information online, in addition to having a pharmacy on site. CVS offers services for their walk-in patients called the MinuteClinic®, which provides care similar to a primary provider for things like skin conditions, minor illnesses, and wellness check-ups.
  • Walgreens started offering similar walk-in services at their Community Clinic in 2017, treating chronic conditions and patients 12 months and older.
  • One Medical is also leveraging technology to provide a more all-encompassing healthcare approach and currently offers options in major cities across the U.S.

Interoperability

Sharing critical information with competitors hasn’t been in the best interests of many companies. Instead, the burden of moving or transmitting medical records from one format or location to another often falls to clinicians, nurses, and even the patients themselves.

In non-clinical settings, it’s possible to send an SMS message using multiple tools, but the problem is you cannot typically send messages between these tools. Exchange standards have not been established, and connecting these disparate tools is challenging. Even so, progress has still been made between a few EHR vendors, which use technology that functions as an intermediary.

True interoperability with “one app to rule them all” is not a reality at the moment, but it’s still the “holy grail” of healthcare technology needs. Not enough tools are robust or extensive enough to handle the complexities of modern healthcare. However, solutions are underway to build integrations and other interoperability workflows, such as PerfectServe’s simple one-tap messaging features.

Address Provider Wellness and Burnout

There is no silver bullet for improving clinician wellness by addressing burnout. Pre-pandemic burnout influences are certainly different from the ones experienced post-pandemic. In the initial phase of the pandemic, even with the overwhelming number of sick patients, clinicians and providers rose to the challenge, thinking, “Okay, this is what I’ve trained for all of my life.”

But, the simple truth is that sustaining an emergency state can tire and negatively impact humans in a very profound way. It creates unendurable situations where people are physically and emotionally drained. Adding to the challenge is the fact that a sizable portion of the population in the United States has not been vaccinated, which has created a bit of an “empathy gap” for some medical professionals who desperately need relief but continue to see avoidable COVID hospitalizations. When developing technology, it’s important to be sensitive to current circumstances so you can offset some of the more onerous inputs clinicians deal with every day.

Nursing Shortage

Nursing shortages affect all layers of healthcare. This trend has been on the radar for a while, but the COVID pandemic has exacerbated the problem as some nurses have left the profession entirely for a number of reasons. Further, if you’re a nurse or physician, you’re also a husband, wife, brother, sister, son, or daughter. If your loved ones get sick, you’re not able to serve patients at the same time. When you throw in additional patient surges, it makes the workload of those who remain more challenging, creating a snowball effect.

Empathy in Healthcare Technology

The people on the front lines of the pandemic have always been heroes, but their efforts have truly been herculean over the past few years. If we develop collaboration technology in these circumstances—which PerfectServe certainly does—we have to be proactive and responsive to current needs while using our product innovations to offset and redirect some of the administrative or logistical inputs that add to care team toil. Much of PerfectServe’s technology reduces these kind of burdens for health systems and their staff every day.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Invest in the Patient Experience

In the U.S., healthcare is not just the individual interactions between a patient and their physician, nurse practitioner, or other caregiver. It takes a team to provide optimal care for an individual patient. Examining how to facilitate and maintain these workflows efficiently needs to be at the forefront of patient care.

Healthcare Technology Solutions for Patients

When designing clinical collaboration solutions, healthcare software providers need to keep the patient experience in mind.

As people grow older and acquire chronic diseases, personalizing care will be important. We have the remote technology to reach patients outside clinic and hospital walls, yet it’s the application and collaboration of these tools that will make a difference in patient outcomes.

As more emphasis is placed on taking care of patients at a distance, the pandemic has forced us to move into the realm of what you might call “healthcare 2.0.” Some of these advances are long overdue, while others are just in the beginning stages.

The intelligent application of analytics and AI could help siphon through data to emphasize important things so the right people can take timely action, or automate the correct action. Using technology this way should ultimately lead to improved and more personalized care for all patients.

Asynchronous Healthcare Delivery

What comes to mind when you think of an ideal experience with a provider?

Whether it’s seeing your physician, having an interaction with a nurse in the hospital, or a visiting with a team of chronic disease care nurses, these consultations can happen face-to-face, by phone, or over a video call.

With technology, you can start collecting most of the information for better care ahead of time without having to wait for a live interaction, minimizing the need to fill paper forms on-site.

How does this help healthcare professionals and their patients?

Asynchronous Healthcare Delivery Outcomes

Asynchronous technology offers a new convenience for individuals who are comfortable revealing their information to the healthcare provider, feeling confident everything has been packaged correctly in written form. Many adults don’t seek in-person care because it can be inconvenient, taking hours to plan and get to a clinic. This technology creates more convenient methods for patients to seek quality care.

It allows access to healthcare for individuals whose schedule may not align with the provider at the moment of the live visit. This helps care team members in the prioritization process. Digital, asynchronous technology can allow one person to interact with many people, improving care outcomes for all of them.

Safe and Transparent Healthcare Communication

Technology helps medical providers gather a lot of patient information ahead of time, and it allows everything to be collected and then placed in a queue so a human can review it. A digital intake form is just one example, and sometimes patients are more comfortable writing down a message about their health condition versus talking about it during a face-to-face interaction. Sometimes patients prefer a phone call and don’t want to be seen on Zoom, or they’re perfectly happy writing out information for the physician to get back to them.

Why Secure Medical Texting Works Better for Patients

Secure Text Messaging for Physicians and Medical Practices

When your staff books an appointment with patients over the phone, there’s no guarantee they will come. Patients may miss or skip medical appointments for a variety of reasons: fear, overlapping commitments, lack of resources, or even just forgetfulness. That’s why it’s crucial to tap into habits patients already use for their personal and professional lives, such as calendar invites and text reminders.1

We’re all patients, and we rely on our phones—a lot. So why not engage patients on their own devices? It’s a solid bet that text messaging will continue to be the number one form of communication cross-generationally among the general public.

“91.9% of patients agreed that text updates helped them avoid calling the office.”2

Patients Check Text Messages More Than Email

Text messaging is one of the fastest and most successful ways to engage with patients. In fact, text messages have a 98% open rate and are typically read within the first few minutes of delivery. By comparison, email open rates only average between 12-25%.3

Do you know how many times Americans check their phones? 160 times a day.4 That’s more than enough to deliver a critical message to a patient or care team member.

Mobile phone usage transcends economic barriers. If a patient doesn’t have access to transportation, a reminder text message could allow them time to get assistance from a rideshare program. One medical provider sent three text reminders to inform patients of the Lyft vehicle picking them up, along with three more follow-up texts after the visit to ensure they arrived home safely. From this effort, patient show rates improved from 54% to 68%.5

These strategies reduce emergency department visits, especially if the clinic partners with social support services or similar rideshare programs. In addition, sending appointment reminders to patients with chronic conditions via text can help them stay on top of their needs and improve their road to recovery.

Texting may offer an efficient, inexpensive way to give a voice to people who aren’t often heard and whose needs aren’t always met.6

Two Reasons Patients Prefer Secure Healthcare Messages

HIPAA rules state that the law “does not prohibit the use of text messaging in healthcare. It is perfectly acceptable for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to communicate with each other—and even patients—via text message.”7 While this is true, certain protections and safeguards still need to be in place to maintain secure PHI, and the data must be encrypted. Using a secure text message system will reduce the friction of communication barriers for both healthcare providers and their patients.

#1 – Secure Text Reminders Keep Patients Engaged

Patients are busy. They may be at work, with family, or lack methods in which to reach the medical office. When they are able to call and check on their appointment, medical staff may not be available to take the message. Sending a text message appointment reminder with a HIPAA-compliant system may decrease those communication errors and missed calls. Another way to alleviate this tension is to set up one-way message reminders regarding patient prescriptions and appointments.

Learn how one medical practice used this method to reduce patient no-shows.

#2 – Forgot Your Portal Login? A Secure Medical Text Might Solve the Problem

Fewer than 25% of patients activate an account for their provider’s patient portal.8 Maybe a lot happened during an appointment, and the physician typed a mountain of notes in the portal. The details and care instructions were clearly defined and detailed. But does the patient know this? Not if they never access the portal.

Using text to support post-appointment instructions such as specialist referrals, medication adherence, or exercises can be a great way to increase patient engagement. Patients could use the secure link to inquire about their treatment, and the provider can respond with clarifying questions and care guidance. A secure, two-way system enables providers to text patients without receiving a flood of calls on their personal device. This mitigates patient call volume, especially on holiday weekends and more typical Saturdays and Sundays.

Rather than getting bogged down with interactions that leave patients with more questions than answers and doctors with directives that go unfollowed, connected care technology promotes a more interactive relationship around treatment.9

Why Text Messaging is the Future of Patient Engagement

#1 – It Keeps Clinical Communication Efficient

Instead of stockpiling 30+ voicemails until the office opens, why not route those calls to the appropriate care team member as needed? Using voice-to-text (V2T) technology can reduce medical transcription errors and confirm an accurate message gets delivered and received by the current on-call provider. A patient call experience could look like this:

Physician Messaging System: “Dr. Driver is on call this afternoon. Please call them at 999-999-9999.” 

Patient: “Hi Doc, is it okay if I take another aspirin after 2 o’clock today? I need to know as I’m still experiencing a lot of pain.”

Using the V2T technology to send the information, Dr. Driver could get the simple alert and decide to respond with a secure message. Combined with masking their personal number, they could send a HIPAA-secure link to initiate a virtual appointment if necessary.

#2 – It Improves Care Delivery Outcomes and Provides Valuable Feedback

Need a feedback loop to understand why patients skipped their last few appointments? What about measuring patient satisfaction scores? Send out your next patient satisfaction survey through a secure medical text.

Patients are more likely to leave an honest review about your medical practice if you follow up after the appointment. Armed with patient feedback, medical practice managers and hospital leaders can pinpoint areas of inefficiency and allocate resources to improve patient outcomes.

Texting is here to stay, and you can utilize it to reduce costs, save time, and better engage patients.

Is it time to rethink your patient communication strategies?

See this research guide on supporting value-based care initiatives for patients through secure text. Better communication = better outcomes.

1Norman, Abby. (2020, January 21). 4 Reasons People Don’t Go to the Doctor. Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/reasons-people-dont-go-to-the-doctor-4779661

2Campbell, K., Blackburn, B. Erickson, J., Pelt, C., Anderson, L., Peters, C., Gililland, J. (2021). Evaluating the Utility of Using Text Messages to Communicate With Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 5(6).

3What Are the Average Click and Read Rates for Email Campaigns? Campaign Monitor. https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/knowledge-base/what-are-the-average-click-and-read-rates-for-email-campaigns/

4Dobrilova, T. (2021, December 7). 35+ Must-Know SMS Marketing Statistics in 2021. TechJury. https://techjury.net/blog/sms-marketing-statistics/#gref

5Chaiyachati, K., Hubbard, R., Yeager, A., Mugo, B., Shea, J., Rosin, R., Grande, D. (2018, June). Rideshare-Based Medical Transportation for Medicaid Patients and Primary Care Show Rates: A Difference-in-Difference Analysis of a Pilot Program. J GEN INTERN MED 33(6), 863–868. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-018-4306-0

6Chang, T. Text messaging connects people to healthier habits, researchers to urban subjects. University of Michigan Health: Michigan Medicine. https://www.uofmhealth.org/text-messaging-connects-people-healthier-habits-researchers-urban-subjects

7HIPAA Journal. Text Messaging in Healthcare. https://www.hipaajournal.com/text-messaging-in-healthcare/

8Campbell, et al.

9Kennedy, R. (2021 November 12). 5 Ways Tech and Care Delivery Models Get Payers Closer to the Quadruple Aim. Managed Healthcare Executive. https://www.managedhealthcareexecutive.com/view/5-ways-tech-and-care-delivery-models-get-payers-closer-to-the-quadruple-aim