Providers understand that the appointment creation process and getting patients in the door, both physically and virtually, drive their revenue cycle. What’s more complex to work through as COVID-19 restrictions ease is learning the best way to optimize existing resources, bring patients back and reduce no-shows with patient communication. 

In this blog, we’re uncovering why one-way automated communications are failing, how one Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) decreased time on the phone by 75 percent and why CareMessenger, a two-way texting solution, rises above the competition.

What are One-Way Patient Communication Automations?

As detailed in a recent blog, patient communication is a method of sharing information between a provider and patient through a standard system. With an average of 83 percent of United States adults annually visiting with a provider, finding two-way automation solutions for patient communication is paramount for the bottom line. For providers turning to automated patient communications, these solutions can include telehealth, SMS messaging, automated phone calls and voicemails and patient portals. 

One-way automation includes broadcast messages that can be delivered to patients, but it usually doesn’t allow for custom reciprocation between patient and provider. For example, have you ever been on a phone call and had to repeatedly repeat “customer service” only to be looped through yet another menu? Unfortunately, with one-way communication, that often is the case; it’s programmed with specific commands but doesn’t allow for customized or two-way messaging.

Two-way communication allows a provider and their team to converse in back and forth messaging with a patient and can include customizable, canned messaging and options to create messaging from scratch. For example, Providertech’s HIPAA-secure two-way texting solution, CareMessenger, gives providers and patients the ability to converse for appointment reminders, patient outreach, population health and much more.

Unknown Number: The Problem with Patient Communication Using Phone Calls

For many providers, picking up the phone or using a one-way phone call automation for appointment scheduling is as routine as refilling the coffee pot. But, whether purely habitual or even encouraged, it’s not the most productive method. According to a Pew Research Center web survey, 80 percent of Americans generally don’t answer phone calls from unknown numbers. Instead, they let the call go to voicemail, where only 67 percent check if a message is left. 

For one-way phone automation, especially if patients don’t answer, the message rolls into a voicemail where the beginning gets cut off. The system has difficulty deciphering the difference between a voicemail greeting and a patient picking up. The patient, then, is receiving a voicemail something attuned to “your appointment or three to reschedule or cancel.”

For patients calling providers back, they’re often faced with menu after menu of “please listen carefully as our options have changed” and long wait times, discouraging patients from even calling in the first place. 

How Secure Two-Way Texting Encourages Engagement

For one FQHC, their manual population health outreach wasn’t yielding the results they had hoped for. 

The front office staff averaged 37 hours per month making appointment reminder phone calls with a capture rate of about 40 percent. When all that work failed to translate into better patient care, the organization decided to try something new to reach their patients how and when they wanted to be reached without spending valuable staff time. 

In a partnership with Providertech, they collaboratively launched small pilots incrementally over a period of time. First, they rolled out automated appointment reminders that offered the opportunity for patients to confirm, cancel or reschedule appointments via text message. In addition, the two organizations developed various population health campaign pilots targeting a variety of groups, including those overdue for:

  • Annual wellness visits
  • Chronic care visits
  • Women’s health checkups
  • Dental care

Nearly a year into implementation, the organization  saw an impressive 75 percent decrease in staff time on the phone, a 50 percent decrease in appointment no-shows and 82 percent adhering to scheduled appointments.

Why CareMessenger Rises Above the Competition

Providertech’s HIPAA-compliant two-way texting solution, CareMessenger, enables custom-saved replies for providers for quick access to frequently asked questions. It also provides a platform for patients to reply to a continuing conversation. 

Picture this: A provider sees that a patient is due for a routine screening reminder. Instead of spending hours playing phone tag, they have an automated text message sent to the patient. The patient sees the text message and replies that they’d like to book their appointment. The provider converses with available slots, and the patient chooses one that works with their schedule. The patient mentions during this chat that their spouse is due for their second COVID-19 vaccination. The provider and patient can find the best day and time for the vaccination appointment. Five minutes later, the provider has secured their patient’s routine screening and an additional vaccination appointment for their spouse. 

This isn’t just a theoretical example; it’s an actual result from a Providertech client using CareMessenger. With this innovative CareX platform tool, opportunities for involving patients in their care can be targeted for tangible results and save providers time and resources.  

Learn More About CareMessenger

Are you interested in learning more about CareMessenger? If so, read more about our automated two-way communications solution.