It’s no secret that healthcare patients are tired of waiting. Wait times are twice as long as other professional service categories (including legal, vehicle, and government). And with an influx in healthcare needs in the past year, it’s likely that wait times will continue to increase unless the industry embraces digital transformation. 

And patients are ready. 

Fortunately, many pain points of the patient experience can be managed and reduced by streamlining common patient interactions. Automating the following six interactions will not only cut down on wait times and improve patient care, but it will also boost your reputation and help you acquire more patients. 

 

  1. Appointments & Patient Scheduling

Did you know that only half of patients who call doctors’ offices are actually able to book an appointment on the first phone call? This leads to more phone calls, more time on hold, and more burdens for patients and for internal staff. Now take the phone call and wait time out of this equation, replace it with online scheduling or a textline and what do you get? More patients in less time and with less effort. 

And 90% of customers prefer to interact with a brand via text message anyway. Text messages have a 209% higher response rate than phone, email, or Facebook. And over half of millennials and Gen Xers say they would switch healthcare providers for the ability to book appointments online. 

With such high success rates for texting, consider providing the option to schedule appointments via text. You can stay in touch with your patients on a platform they prefer and send timely messages with appointment reminders and expectations.  Additionally, this can also help you cut down on no-shows, which cost the U.S. healthcare system more than  $150 billion a year. Automating these interactions via text will help patients feel in the loop and add to the overall value of their experience.

 

  1. Bill Payments

In nearly every other consumer experience, your patients are used to paying for services in the ways that are convenient for them. Yet, with arguably one of the most important payments we make (i.e., our health), the billing process is often ambiguous and delayed. 73% of providers report that it takes one month or longer to collect from patients.

The 2019 Trends in Healthcare Payment Report reports that 83% of patients would prefer to pay for their care online; yet, 87% of providers still leverage paper and manual processes for bill collections. And almost all consumers (91%) were surprised by a medical bill in 2019. 

Today, patients expect transparency and convenience in the billing process. One way to meet the need is through a mobile payment option. It’s contactless, convenient, and curated for today’s modern patient. And you can automate invoice delivery and bill reminders, saving your office staff time and energy.

 

  1. Review Requests

Today, 90% of patients use online reviews to evaluate physicians—71% consider it the first step to finding a good physician. Clearly, reviews are crucial to the success of your healthcare practice. 

But reviews aren’t going to write themselves. Automating the process can make it easier and faster to build up your online reputation. Fortunately, 76% of consumers that are asked to leave a review, do. And 72% of patient reviews are positive. 

Add asking for reviews to your patient experience. Send a review request with a quick text message and get ahead of the game on search engine results.

 

  1. Feedback Requests

Feedback requests can be another simple, yet effective, way to improve business and patient satisfaction. And it’s an easy interaction to automate.

Consider adding a textable number to your patient journey. You can automate the ask for feedback post appointment and patients will be more likely to respond. The majority of patients (across all age groups) are dissatisfied with the discharge process and 75% expect follow-up within 48 hours anyway. By implementing and automating an ask for feedback, you can stay in touch with your patients. Plus, 70% of millenial and Gen Z patients are already expecting a follow-up via text. 

 

  1. Webchat FAQs

Another effective and convenient way for patients to get answers without being put on hold or even setting foot into the office is through a web chat option. Especially in the era of remote work and digital services (and even extending to post-pandemic times), more and more people expect virtual connectivity with healthcare providers.

Through a simple chat widget, patients can get answers to frequently asked questions and even self-assess symptoms to see if an office visit is necessary, alleviating patient stress and in-office resources. And automating answers to FAQs can save your staff time and deliver answers to patients faster. If you’re looking for a web chat platform, consider a solution that sends web messages directly to a centralized inbox. You can staff all incoming messages at once, instead of coordinating answers for texts, web chats, phone calls, and emails. 

 

  1. Return Visit Scheduling

Because of the amazing care you provide your patients, they are likely to return. But instead of staffing for phone call inquiries to schedule a new appointment, direct mail reminders, or even follow up emails, automate this process with a platform that converts—text messages. 98% of all text messages are opened and 95% are opened and responded to within three minutes of delivery. 

Email, comparatively, only fares a 20% open rate. Texting is unquestionably the most preferred and effective form of messaging among your patients. So for something as important as return appointments, automate text reminders and your customer response rate will increase. 

 

Optimize the Patient Experience

If you’re ready to benefit from any or all of these automation tips, request a demo to see how Podium can help your health system. Improve operational efficiency, stay connected with your patients, and acquire more as your reputation grows.  

Adapt the way you do business. Press send.