Effective Patient Management Strategies Provide Better Quality of Care and Return on Marketing Dollars
// By Kris Altiere //
You’re spending a lot to attract potential patients, but how well are you converting them, or nurturing them once you get their attention? Are you able to see where they are in the sequence of actions you’re trying to get them to take? Do you know when they stall? Do you have a process to re-engage them and keep them moving forward?
One way to ensure patients stay engaged and follow through with their care is to have an effective patient management strategy in place that tracks leads from intake to post-op care, securing better outcomes for patients and a better return on the hospital’s marketing investment.
Here are three keys to a patient management strategy that can help you follow leads through the care continuum:
- Ensure Website Collects Information and Makes It Easy to Convert
A website is often the consumer’s primary gateway to medical and hospital services. Almost half (43 percent) of all visits to hospital websites start from a search engine inquiry, and nearly the same amount (49 percent) of all patients search on the web for information about health conditions or diseases. Thirty-five percent search for symptoms or medical specialties, and 10 percent search by brand or name of a hospital.
To make the most of your site traffic, your website should not only have a call to action to invite patients to come for a visit or follow-up but a way to collect information.
Your website should:
- Make submitting information fast and easy: Electronic forms streamline patient intake, simplify the administrative process, and help ensure the accuracy of recorded patient information. Customized patient e-forms convert paper records into HIPAA-compliant electronic versions that can be used internally or on a website. By incorporating e-forms into your operations, you reduce EMR errors, quickly validate insurance coverage, and organize how you record patient information.
- Guarantee timely follow-up: Patients submit information on your website because they’re eager to learn more about treatment right away. Make sure you have a plan in place to follow up quickly, while they are still interested. Don’t make them wait until the fire has gone out.
- Educate Patients Digitally and Enhance Dialogue Opportunities
Patient education is a valuable tool for healthcare marketers. Healthcare organizations that haven’t yet implemented digital education are missing out according to a recent poll showing that about 60 percent of consumers—even those in higher age brackets—are willing to engage electronically with care providers.
By improving digital dialogue with patients, healthcare providers offer valuable communication outside the typical healthcare setting, particularly important for post-discharge follow-up. With a more relevant form of communication, providers can better engage with patients to improve their health outcomes.
Sometimes patient education involves a seminar. Online health seminars allow consumers to listen and learn with the click of a mouse at their own convenience, which tends to make them more receptive and responsive. They can watch and participate in educational sessions in a relaxed environment, an attractive option for patients who may not feel comfortable starting the intake process.
Marketers can track how much of the seminar patients watched, see if they had questions, and use statistics and analytics to guide them to the next step in the care process.
- Keep the Lines of Communication Open with Outreach and Reminders
- Automated dialogue: Simple text messages, automated phone calls, or email are effective methods of keeping the lines of communication open between health care providers and patients. Sometimes the message reminds patients of the next steps they should take for positive outcomes, especially if you notice that they are stalled at a step. For example, they came to a consult but haven’t finished the paperwork. Send them a reminder to follow through with a text link that makes it easier to do so. Or if they’re working on medical clearance—say for diet if they’re a bariatric patient—give them motivation or inspiration to take the next step. Connecting with patients and nurturing them is what keeps them engaged throughout the continuum.
- Wellness and preventive care reminders: A medical call center, RN-staffed NurseLine, or patient management software enable you to engage with your patients and inspire action toward wellness. By reminding, connecting, and reaching out to patients with a phone call, email reminder, or text message, care coordinators help keep patients on track with wellness and prevention measures they can and should take for positive outcomes. Some of these measures include sharing health and wellness tips, reminding patients of upcoming appointments, and encouraging preventive exams and screenings.
- Post-discharge contact: Patients are up to 50 percent less likely to return to the ER within the first month after surgery if they receive a phone call with a post-discharge follow-up survey. They also report higher satisfaction and faster medication-related issue resolution. When patients knew what to expect after surgery, 72 percent were extremely satisfied with surgery results compared to only 39 percent satisfaction among those who did not know what to expect, a recent Gallup survey shows.
- Re-engagement campaigns: A medical call center can also help reconnect you with patients to improve acquisition and retention rates. Relevant, enticing patient re-engagement campaigns can rekindle interest with targeted, timely, and valuable messages, strategically sent via email, text, and traditional mail.
A good patient management tool is a wise investment if you want to improve patient outcomes while boosting profitability. Marketing automation tools don’t have the ability to track to the next step. Information in Excel spreadsheets can be inefficient. Patient management tools offer access in real time.
Many tools on the market don’t follow a patient through the entire care continuum. They may let you see activity and engagements but do not provide a view of the patient’s progress. A patient management tool gives the marketing team transparency, allowing them to log into a dashboard and see how many people came to a seminar, how many have scheduled a procedure, and beyond. With a strong website, patient education, open lines of communication, and opportunities for follow-up reminders, hospital marketers can help patients actively manage their health and get the care they need to lead healthier lives.
Kris Altiere is the director of marketing and creative at of Sequence Health, a performance-optimizing healthcare technology and service company focused on helping bridge the communication, education, and participation gaps within the patient-provider relationship.