Editor’s Note: Most physicians are completely comfortable with digital technology. Several studies confirm that they often look online for medical or professional information, and they frequently use email to communicate with colleagues. But when it comes to patient communications, as few as 20 percent are emailing patients. Not only do patients want email, text and voicemail between office visits, but personalized communications proves to enhance patient satisfaction.
Guest Post by Scott Zimmerman
Now more than ever, patients have the opportunity to stay connected with their doctors outside of the exam room. Our research revealed that digital care between office visits, such as emails, texts, or voicemail, is exactly the type of additional patient experience American healthcare consumers want and expect from their doctors.
As high-tech engagement continues to shape healthcare, we’re witnessing a patient’s location and even weather conditions become lesser issues. Doctors are creating meaningful experiences with each patient—even when they’re not face-to-face—to remain an active part of their daily life.
Our TeleVox Healthy World study entitled, Technology Beyond the Exam Room: How Digital Media is Helping Doctors Deliver the Highest Level of Care, found that patients want their doctors and medical staff to make it personal. When it comes to communicating between in-person visits via email, voicemail and text, the following four personalization tips can enhance the doctor-patient relationship:
- Use their first name. Forty-four percent of healthcare consumers surveyed said they would like all communication from their doctor to be personalized with their name.
- Make all communication specific to their illness. Fifty-eight percent of patients want messages from doctors to be personalized to fit their needs, such as educational facts about their illness related to their gender, age and location.
- Make sure communication maps to their treatment plan. Fifty-three percent of patients expect their communications with healthcare professionals to be relevant to them as an individual. Sending a patient specific reminders to monitor their glucose or check blood sugar levels can make them feel engaged and prepared.
- Know your patient’s specific goals and customize messages to help them reach that goal. Forty-four percent of patients expect their healthcare professional to know what services and treatments they want or need.
Forward-thinking healthcare practitioners are a driving force for improving the collective health of Americans. Patients are always listening, and that engaging them between office visits will encourage and inspire them to embrace treatment plans. Personalized and ongoing patient engagement will activate positive lifestyle changes and help people of all ages lead healthy lives.
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Scott Zimmerman is a regularly published thought leader on engaging patients via ongoing communication between office visits. He is the President of TeleVox Software, Inc, a high-tech Engagement Communications company that provides automated voice, email, SMS and web solutions that activate positive patient behaviors by applying technology to deliver a human touch. Scott spearheads TeleVox’s Healthy World initiative, a program that leverages ethnographic research to uncover, understand and interpret both patient and provider points of view with the end goal of creating a healthier world—one person at a time. Scott is a graduate of the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis.