I recently got an appointment reminder from my eye doctor asking me to confirm my appointment over text messaging (see below).
A 2013 study found that 80 percent of patients say it is their doctors job to keep them healthy, not just to treat them when they are ill, and “70 percent of respondents say their doc has never checked on them when they weren’t sick in order to help them stay healthy.”
Now more than ever, patients are behaving like empowered healthcare consumers. Rising deductibles associated with the Affordable Care Act (up by 26%), for example, are causing patients to pay closer attention to their healthcare decisions. It’s no surprise, then, that research from Deloitte shows an increasing number of people that are going online to find information to help them make educated medical purchases.
As published by Nielsen Mobile, “the typical U.S. mobile subscriber sends and receives more SMS text messages than telephone calls.” This may not come as a surprise. However, the fact that this has been the case since 2008 might. So why haven’t service oriented companies adopted this communication channel to deliver a more delightful experience for their customers? And why are you reading about this on a blog from a healthcare technology company?
It’s not uncommon to find a OneReach team member wearing a bright blue t-shirt with the words “Can I Text Your Business” in big block letters on the front of it. My colleague and I were both wearing them at the International Customer Managment Institute conference in San Diego a couple months ago, when a woman who manages a contact center said- “No, you can’t!” from across the way. While that may seem like a pretty normal statement, the ensuing conversation brought a couple key elements into focus for us both.
Having observed dozens of providers and staff members in their natural work environment, we have seen and heard a lot. But some of the personal stories that we’ve heard are hard to forget and worth sharing. These stories shed light on the truth about healthcare communications and the workflows of these dedicated, and often over-worked, staff members.
You may not be a doctor, but you’ve been a patient. And you’ve definitely had to call in to a doctor’s office before. How do you recall that experience going? Was it simple, quick, and effortless? Was the staff member you spoke with warm, friendly, and helpful? Or was it a rushed experience, lacking of context and generally unpleasant?
Unfortunately, it was probably the latter. And no matter how unpleasant it was for you, just imagine what it must be like for that staff member whose job is to handle dozens or even hundreds of those encounters a day.
Given the hierarchical nature of healthcare communications, where each provider is surrounded by a layer of full-time employees, who collectively serve a patient population that could number in the thousands, the communication process is inherently challenging. To make matters worse, staff are given rudimentary tools to communicate with patients, referring physicians, pharmacies, and payers. How can they be expected to manage everything?