We are in the middle of a communication revolution. There are now so many new ways patients can contact your practice other than via phone.
So let’s take a look at all the various ways your patients may contact you & how you can communicate to your patients.
The telephone is still the most reliable fall-back. It is the most synchronous form of communication whereby both parties are willing and able to talk in real time. For after-hours service you can set up an informative message on hold, of course, customised to your practice. But be sure to drop the music.
In the end, it is your personal decision if you choose to hand out your mobile phone number to patients or not, but this may be a way to build trust, especially with new patients.
Every decent patient management software now includes a function whereby you can send automated text message to patients, e.g. to remind them of their appointments. However, what if patients could text you personally?! By its very nature, the people choosing to text understand the limitations of synchronicity, i.e., they don’t expect an answer right away and they understand that it’s just for relatively minor issues. Once again, this is your personal decision, but consider the positive impact it could have on your patient retention.
Your website should include an online booking form which generates an automated email message to your front desk or to yourself. Some patients may choose to email you directly with brief questions. Most are easily answered by return email; many require appointments, which can also be made through email exchange instead of over the phone.
I already touched on this previously, highlighting the effectiveness of Facebook for your practice marketing. By creating your own online community you can direct more traffic to your website and get into instant contact with your patients, whether privately or for everyone to see. The profile setup is simple and does not cost anything but by means of setting up your practice page you not only build your profile and increase your credibility but you also aid your search engine optimisation.
This is still an effective form of communication mainly with older patients. They may or may not have access to a computer, but they prefer the good old-fashioned world of envelopes and stamps. It’s no problem.
Its scrolling 140-character tableau of news fits perfectly on your smartphone, tablet, lap top, and PC. It’s easy to glance at between tasks and the advertising is minimal. You can control the content by following and un-following other Twitter accounts with a simple click or a touch and it lets you get in touch with healthcare specialists (who can then be part of your referral network), associations and your patients without being too invasive.
The only thing you need to be aware of with all these different modes of communication is that you have to make a point of staying connected. That means keeping an email window up on the computer during the day and the mobile phone in your pocket (obviously not answered when consulting with a patient). Neither is a big deal. Simply arrange all your accounts so that all email shows up in one place and you can set Facebook and Twitter to send an email when you have a new message.