According to a recent article in Managed Healthcare Executive, more than 80 percent of healthcare quality experts say improving communication between patients and healthcare staff is the number one factor in improving the patient care experience.
This is supported by a study published in the current issue of the Journal of Medical Practice Management. By analyzing nearly 35,000 online reviews of doctors nationwide, researchers found that customer service – not a physician’s medical expertise and clinical skill – is the overwhelming reason patients complain about their healthcare experiences on the Internet. In fact, 96 percent of patient complaints cite poor communication, disorganization, and excessive delays in seeing a physician as the cause for dissatisfaction.
These results mean that fewer than 1 in 20 patient complaints cite diagnosis, treatments, or outcomes as problems. Instead, more than 19 of 20 unhappy patients say inadequate communications and disorganized operations are the culprits.
Consider now that nearly 80 percent of people of all ages rely on online reviews and physician ratings before choosing a new doctor. Couple this with 96 percent of negative reviews tied to poor communication, and you see the importance of creating a great patient experience.
Lack of Communication
The subject of consumerization has been around for many years, but the subject of consumerization in the “business” of healthcare has just started to take center stage. While other industries often speak of being “customer centric” or “putting the customer first,” the U.S. healthcare system rarely thinks of the patient as a customer. It could even be said that the U.S. healthcare market is the least customer-centric of any customer service industry.
The reality is, consumer expectations have changed drastically over the last decade. With the rise of the Internet, text-based messaging, and digital telephony, our views of the responsiveness and accessibility have altered. And medicine has fallen behind.
Put simply, the modern patient is developing needs and expectations about communication that the typical healthcare organization isn’t meeting. It’s time to understand them or risk losing the connection altogether.
Trends in Healthcare Communication
The evidence is clear that communication patterns have changed materially over the past decade, leading to permanent changes in the way we interact – not only with each other, but also with service providers. Recent research shows that:
- 98 percent of Americans now own a cell phone, with 81 percent of these opting for a smartphone – an increase of 120 percent over the same figure six years ago.
- 97 percent of smartphone owners regularly use their phone for text messaging, making it the most common activity on the devices – even above voice calling.
- 78 percent of consumers with texting capabilities now indicate they would prefer to use texting over voice as a customer service channel – a number that increases to 86 percent for the millennial demographic.
And patient-provider communication isn’t the only type of channel that matters. In fact, internal communication and collaboration indirectly impact the patient experience. When healthcare professionals don’t communicate, it can lead to a negative workplace culture and inferior patient care. Taking steps to enhance communication among your entire team will create a better environment, both for employees and patients.
But how can you go about changing the way an entire system communicates? Thankfully, that work has already been done.
Changing Healthcare Communication
Reachify was founded by doctors to solve the communication challenges they faced in their own practice. Messages fell through the cracks, too many calls went to voicemail, response times were not adequate, and staff felt overwhelmed. Unable to find a solution in the market, they decided to take the matter into their own hands and founded Reachify with the goal of reimagining healthcare communication.
Reachify is the first HIPAA-compliant, all-inclusive intelligent phone system built exclusively for the unique demands of the healthcare industry. Unlike other “solutions” in the industry, Reachify combines your voice and messaging services into a single integrated platform that is connected with your existing EHR/PM software. Since it consolidates services, you end up paying less to get much more.
Here are five specific ways Reachify can help you improve communication at your healthcare organization.
Team Collaboration: Bring team collaboration to a whole new level. Reachify organizes conversations into groups and private messages, enabling real-time dialogue across the team. Discuss patients, tasks, and more without the need for pagers or insecure SMS messages. Reachify’s military-grade encryption allows you to upload and share almost any file.
Smart Caller ID: Integration with your existing EHR/Practice Management system allows you to view pertinent information about each caller the second they call. With Reachify’s screen popup capabilities, you’ll have all your patient information instantly available when receiving calls to increase productivity and patient satisfaction.
Conversational Two-Way Texting: Reach your patients faster and on the medium they prefer, and have real conversations that build relationships. With Reachify’s two-way secure text messaging, you can send and receive SMS and MMS messages using your existing landline phone number. Lower call volumes, attract more patients, improve retention, and better engage with your patients.
Historical and Real-Time Reports: Spot trends fast with Reachify reporting and analytics. See how your patients are being served across all channels and in different areas of the practice, and learn how your staff is performing against expectations.
Virtual Office App: Any medical professional can make secure patient calls and text messages from anywhere on their mobile device while using their office number. No more carrying two mobile devices or disclosing your personal number to check in with a patient. Easily access all contacts and securely communicate with staff using team messaging and collaboration.
Effective communication starts from the ground up, and is reinforced by practitioners who lead by example. By building a foundation of meaningful communication at all levels – from entry-level to executive management – your organization will be better equipped to provide quality patient care.