Practical Ideas to Help Your Practice Thrive in Post-COVID-19 World

Steer Health Senior

Digital adoption has taken a quantum leap during and after COVID19

During the pandemic, consumers have moved dramatically toward online channels, and companies and industries have responded in turn. Patients today are three times likelier now as compared to before the COVID crisis to say that at least 80 percent of their personal interactions are digital in nature. This transformational change in patient's behavior provides a unique opportunity for healthcare organizations to meet their patient's expectations.

Acceleration of digital, tech, and personalization. It’s already a cliché: the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the shift to digital. But the best healthcare organizations are going further, by enhancing and expanding their digital channels. They’re successfully using advanced consumer centric tools to combine new ways of engagement, such as secure chatbots, 2-way SMS with their own insights to make better and personalized customer experiences and further strengthen their delivery of patient care.

HOW TO ADOPT TO THE NEW NORMAL AND GROW A MEDICAL PRACTICE: COMMON CHALLENGES

Learning how to grow a medical practice is fraught with hurdles stemming from the nature of the healthcare industry. Common challenges include:

  • The need for flexibility. Practicing medicine entails constant change, from ever-evolving medical technology to unpredictable shifts introduced by COVID to changing patient expectations. You must be able to adapt quickly in order to learn how to grow your practice. If you’re not flexible, you’re not able to meet your patients’ ever-changing needs.
  • The challenges of legacy EHR technology. Given the rapidly-changing pace of the consumer technology adoption, you waste time putting out fires if you don’t have a solid patient relationship platform in place. EHR technologies are built for back-office needs and seldom work in engaging patient's needs. In order to grow your medical practice, you’ll need to employ a top-notch patient outreach platform which amplifies your staff productivity while helping your patients.
  • The importance of strong personalization. Medicine is a highly personal matter, and patients must feel safe before entrusting their health to your team. You must be able to develop strong relationships to bond effectively with patients from all walks of life. Since this type of trust is central to learning how to grow a medical practice, you’ll need to pick a technology platform that helps with personalized outreach and enhances already established trust between the doctor and the patient.

UNDERSTAND THAT LEARNING HOW TO GROW YOUR PRACTICE REQUIRES CONFIDENCE

Your mindset plays a pivotal role in learning how to grow your practice. Take a moment and think about your perceived limitations. (It might help to think of them as “reasons” you can’t achieve something.) Here are some of the common ones we’ve heard.

  • It’s so hard to find a reliable and friendly patient-centric staff. They either leave after a few months or a year, or I have to fire them. The cost of that kind of turnover is killing my bottom line.
  • Patients get so frustrated from dealing with their insurance that they can’t ever be fully content customers from start to finish. They subconsciously blame us for their insurance troubles.

When you believe your hands are tied, mastering how to grow a medical practice seems out of reach. Instead of viewing your problems as limitations, view them as opportunities. It’s all in your perspective – whether you overcome your challenges or give in to a defeatist mindset.

HOW TO GROW YOUR PRACTICE: STRATEGIES AND TIPS

Learning how to grow your practice means understanding what you’re up against. Like any other industry, increasing your patient volumes boils down to your online presence, patient satisfaction, practice reputation and cultivating patient relationships. To grow your medical practice, you must create a strategy for cementing how to bring more patients to your practice.

Purpose-driven Patient playbook - Healthcare organizations need to understand what patients will value, post-COVID-19, and enhance current workflows, processes and tailored experiences based on those insights.

1. Make Sure Your Patients Can Reach You 24/7 via 2-Way SMS and Chatbots

In recent years, text messaging in healthcare has gone from a niche phenomenon to something that many providers have incorporated into their patient communications. This is even more pronounced in 2021, in the shadow of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone has rapidly adapted to a new wave of telehealth, and we need to be able to remotely communicate as effectively as possible.

Almost 40% of Americans are still fearful of visiting their doctors for a checkup while the risk of COVID-19 remains. 30% of patients have not seen their doctors for a routine checkup since the onset of the pandemic. We need text messaging in healthcare to plug this gap.

Patients want access to their doctors, health information, and a positive healthcare experience. But they don’t want to expose themselves to unnecessary risks. Text messaging offers the best of both worlds, through SMS appointment reminders, text-based scheduling, and more.

Text messages are powerful because patients like them. They have a 98% open rate and most are responded to within 90 seconds. This convenience and immediacy makes text messaging for medical offices highly appealing.

2. Expand Patient Volume by adding Online Scheduling

Thanks to digital scheduling tools, patients can book appointments online. Reduce the burden on your staff by enabling online scheduling. Once you enable online scheduling, patients don't have to wait on hold for your staff to make an appointment. Your staff don't have to manually ask several questions and play phone tag with other important patients. Create processes to ensure your patients can request both walk-in and virtual appointments online 24/7.

3. Deliver On-Demand Telemedicine

Connect with your patients based on their needs, and offer On-Demand Telemedicine as a service. You and your doctors are already doing the work, and why not bill for it.  This will tremendously help improve patient care especially amongst chronically ill patients with improved access and personalized care. Telemedicine should be offered in an as needed basis for patients and their caregivers.

4. Earn 5-Star Online Reputation

For any business today, online reviews are important. Establish processes to proactively collect patient reviews promptly after the visits.  If negative reviews about your practice are posted online and if they are not responded or managed properly, patients will look for alternatives and thereby avoid your services. Reviews will show you areas that you can improve on before more patients face similar issues

5. Patient Experience Is More Important Than Ever

Patient expectations regarding their "experience" have changed dramatically in the last several years. This is not to say that clinical outcomes will be less important, but now patients are looking for exceptional engagement and experiences to tie in with the strong clinical outcomes.

Organizations should be considering features like chatbot technologies, machine learning and artificial intelligence to get a start on the next wave of capabilities that will further improve the patient experience, and deliver helpful insights on a 24/7 basis in a cost effective and automated manner

6. Offer Remote Patient Monitoring and Virtual Wellness Visits

Reaching your patients and serving them remotely has become a necessity not only to sustaining your practice during this pandemic and also to generate significant new streams of revenue. Providing virtual care services such as Remote Patient Monitoring, Wellness Visits and On-Demand Telemedicine are some of the best ways to care for patients safely in-between their visits and earn their trust.

Therefore, your customer service must be nothing short of exceptional at all times to ensure patients get information quickly and in a manner that reassures and calms them. The good news is digital tools can augment your team's outreach and meet your goals. 

Think Long term

At this time, optimizing your performance levels by using digital tools will amplify your team's efficiencies. Improved workflows assisted by digital tools are ultimately going to deliver the best patient experiences. Look for ways to implement improved workflows in a more practical manner without adding a lot of burden to your staff. In fact, ensure these technologies reduce the staff burden.

Remember to focus on personalization and convenience as you roll out your new capabilities. However, they are not just a fix for a temporary challenge but will also be invaluable to your practice after the pandemic.

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