medical admin

The Rx for Medical Administration Headaches: Proactive Outbound Notifications

It can be tough to reconcile the ideal of medical care with the operational realities of running a healthcare organization, not to mention your patients’ daily lives. Optimal care is defined as the right care, at the right time, in the right setting–but when it comes to patient engagement, it helps to take a page from traditional marketing tenets and include the right message, at the right time, via the right channel. In other words, it’s not enough to communicate effectively with your patients when they’re in your facility. To best serve them and encourage long-term health, your healthcare contact center needs effective communication efforts that reach your patients where they live.

Here’s a quick window into what we mean. These statistics come from Nuance’s study of proactive patient engagement:

  • 65 percent of healthcare consumers are interested in receiving reminders from their healthcare providers.
  • 53 percent believe that communication through text, email or mobile app could have helped them avoid a health problem in the past.
  • 45 percent of all patients, and 58 percent of Millennials, admit they forgot to schedule a medical appointment in the past 12 months.
  • 67 percent say they would likely submit key health measurements through an app, text, email, phone or web survey.

Now let’s consider the operational statistics:

  • As far back as 2013, it was estimated that missed appointments cost the U.S. healthcare system more than $150 billion a year.
  • One single no-show a day can cost your organization anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000 per provider in annual revenue.With all this in mind, surely it makes sense to add proactive, outbound patient notifications to your existing automated IVR. And it doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.

What Can Proactive Notifications Do?

If a large number of your patients would benefit from automating an oft-repeated process, the question is more accurately phrased as what can’t they do? Here’s a partial list of possibilities from all stages of the patient journey:

  • Allow patients to easily schedule visits or follow-up appointments, or to make changes to standing appointments.This reduces no-shows and last-minute cancellations.
  • Remind patients to fill their prescriptions, take their medications correctly and monitor potential side effects.
  • Monitor patients’ symptoms so issues can be identified and addressed before they become more serious.
  • Allow patients to access test results over the phone.
  • Provide ongoing education, tips and encouragement to help build the confidence patients need to make long-term changes.
  • Give patients the option to provide feedback about their experiences with your facilities and medical providers.

Using these notifications also frees up your staff’s time so they can focus on providing excellent patient care. This cuts your administrative costs and increases your organization’s bottom line.

Customizable Solutions

You can get all this with Fuse+, Plum Voice’s automated IVR call-flow application. Not only does it come out the box with templates that help you quickly and easily set up your automated options, it’s also customizable so you can anticipate each patient’s specific needs. For instance, if a certain type of appointment or procedure has specific instructions, such as fasting beforehand or bringing information to the visit, patients can be reminded at the same time they confirm their appointment. And all of Plum Voice’s apps integrate seamlessly so you can, for instance, connect reminders to the account inquiry app to encourage patients to make payments while you have them on the phone.

All of these options give your patients more control of their own healthcare, establish greater levels of transparency between your organization and their lives, and eliminate the sort of bottlenecks and dead ends that can discourage patients from prioritizing their care.

A Case Study

Of course, this all sounds wonderful, but you might be wondering if it really works. Allow us to provide an example from among Plum Voice’s clients.

When providers aren’t made aware of problems that patients are having, it can result in patients having to be readmitted to the hospital–not a desirable outcome for anyone involved. One of our clients, a public hospital system, needed to improve patient experiences and reduce readmission rates.With Plum Voice’s help, they automated patient notifications that inquired about potential symptoms each patient could be experiencing; the system was customized to connect patients to a nurse, if necessary, all within the same call. The hospital was therefore able reach a larger number of patients in a shorter period of time, which helped identify and resolve patient issues in a timely manner, which in turn corresponded to a reduction in the number of patient readmissions. The process has worked so well that the facility is in the process of developing and launching additional voice applications to serve a wider range of patient needs.

What About HIPAA?

Finally, we get to the question that no healthcare provider can afford to ignore. Got time for one more statistic? Only 41 percent of U.S. hospitals have reported that their providers can send and receive secure electronic messages with patient health information to and from external sources. Does that sound like effective HIPAA compliance to you? Fortunately for companies that require HIPAA compliance for their voice or SMS communications, Plum Voice handles all of the complicated, ongoing details of maintaining HIPAA compliance for you. Our Plum DEV automation platform is HIPAA-compliant, and Fuse+ is both HIPAA-and PCI-compliant,so any personal health information or financial information remains secure within Plum Voice’s apps. That means Plum’s technology makes these components of your patient communications compliant without having to worry with maintaining compliance on your own.

However, no patient information solution is worth considering if your organization is not able to implement it effectively over time. So it’s important to note that implementing Plum Voice’s apps is not a “one and done” for your contact center; 75 percent of the healthcare organizations we’ve partnered with have rated our account management team at 5 out of 5 stars. If you need support with any aspect of your setup and maintenance, we are always here to help.

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