The world of instant connection lets you impress your patients even between appointments.
Thirty-four years of practice has let me see an evolution of communication that boggles the mind. My first mobile phone, which I used for emergency patient calls, had a bag with a receiver and a wire connecting it like your home phone.
When we wanted to have a successful growing practice, the best way was to reach out to patients four times a year. Typically we would send a letter.
Today, if you don’t make a constant flow of impressions, someone else will. Your patients are so connected through all forms of social media, so they are targets for your competition.
How do you start? First, let your patients know that the practice is going “green” by reducing paper use and mail.
We don’t ask patients for a home phone number; we ask for their email addresses and cell phone numbers. We provide receipts by secure email, email reminders and text confirmation of appointments.
Make sure all your employees have email accounts associated with the office. That way, patients can directly reach the staff member who can help them. All this sets up your patients to see how your practice is keeping up with the future of communication.
Setting up your online community by opening accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube, as well as live streaming video, can seem daunting. But take one at a time. It always helps to assign this task to an employee who is a Millennial or who at least understands these media.
Once your accounts are set up, what do you do with them? Now, it’s time to spend some money. There are several companies that will help with your software needs. You’ll need to look and determine which are the best match for your office, keeping in mind that no one company covers all the bases well.
We use software from 4PatientCare to manage online appointment scheduling, recalls and confirmations. All this is done with email and texts. Scheduler allows patients to book appointments automatically from our website, find-a-doctor locators, review sites such as Yelp and Google+, and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. 4PatientCare also helps with patient communications such as recalls and follow-ups for no-shows. And, there’s multi-channel, dual-language automated messaging that lets you communicate with patients in English and Spanish through email, text, voice and snail mail. It’s all about delivering the right message to the right patient at the right time, all automatically.
WebSystem3 software from EyeCare Prime, a subsidiary of CooperVision, also allows patients to book appointments online. In addition, practices can send automatic appointment recalls, reminders and confirmations via text, email and phone. It also encourages and enables patients to provide feedback by sending “thank-you” emails with a survey and an invitation to post a review on popular review sites. Our practice uses WebSystem3 to create newsletters for our patients and to post comical eyecare jokes, informational facts and fun visual illusions. (We get lots of likes for the jokes.)
Solutionreach also offers a patient relationship management platform that includes such features as automated eyeglasses pick-up notifications, appointment reminders, recall notifications, and payment reminders; targeted educational material; and targeted surveys.
The world today is all about moving pictures. You can create a YouTube channel for your office and post videos about the practice, for patient education or to let patients know of new offerings.
For even more fun, shoot a video of what’s happening now in your office. For example, when I brought out the box of a new Vera Bradley product, I shot video of my employees picking out their favorite items.
WHAT TO REMEMBER
When I walk into my exam room to see a patient, I try to remember something funny or a happy occurrence and I have a huge smile when I enter to see the patient. I watch that little thing change the demeanor of patients no matter how long they have been waiting or how bad their day is for them.
Our communication needs to be fun, unmasked, surprising and unexpected. We want our patients to associate warmth, fun and entertainment with our offices as well as the quality of care we provide. It’s hard to put a dollar value on working in the new world of communications, but if you look at it as something new and fun, it will help you enjoy what you do with—and for—your patients. OO
Bradford Ripps, OD, has three offices in northwestern New Jersey.
WHERE TO FIND IT:
877.479.5484 | 4PatientCare.com
866.575.3937 | EyeCarePrime.com
866-605-6867 | Solutionreach.com