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Where Patient Communications Fall Short?

Posted on October 12, 2017 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Sarah Bennight, Marketing Strategist for Stericycle Communication Solutions, as part of the Communication Solutions Series of blog posts. Follow and engage with them on Twitter: @StericycleComms

We are constantly switching devices to engage in our daily lives. In fact, in the last ten minutes I have searched a website on my desktop computer, answered a phone call, and checked several text messages and emails on my cellphone. Our ability to seamlessly jump from one device to the next affects our consumer behavior when interacting with places of business.

Today, we can order coffee and groceries online, web chat with our internet service company, and research store offerings before ever physically walking into a building. Traditionally, healthcare consumers had mainly phone support until the 2014 Meaningful Use 2 rule dictated messaging with a physician and patient portal availability. Recently, online scheduling and urgent care check in has been an attractive offering for consumers of health wanting to take control of their calendars and wait times.

Healthcare is certainly expanding functionality and communication channels to meet consumer demand. But where are we falling short? The answer may be relatively simple: data integration. Much like the clinical side of the healthcare business, integration is a gap we must solve. The key to turning technological convenience into optimal experience is evolving multichannel patient interactions into omnichannel support.

Omnichannel means providing a seamless experience regardless of channel or device. In the healthcare contact center, this means ensuring live agents, scheduling apps, chat bots, messaging apps, and all other interaction points share data across channels. It removes the individual information silos surrounding the patient journey, and connects them into one view from patient awareness to care selection, and again when additional care is needed.

In 2016, Cisco Connect cited four key reasons a business should invest in omnichannel consumer experiences, but I believe this resonates in the healthcare world as well:

  1. A differentiated patient and caregiver experience which is personal and interactive. Each care journey is unique, and their initial experiences should resonate and instill confidence in your brand. We now communicate with several generations who have different levels of comfort with technology and online resources. Offering multiple channels of interaction is crucial to success in the competitive healthcare space. But don’t stop there! Integrated channels connecting the data points along the journey into and beyond the walls of the care facility will create lasting loyalty.
  2. Increased profit and revenue. The journey to finding a doctor or care facility begins long before a patient walks in your door. Most of these journeys begin online, by interviewing friends, and checking online reviews. Once an initial decision is made to visit your organization, you can extend your marketing budget by targeting patients who might actually be interested in your services. When you know what your patients’ needs are, there is a greater focus and a higher chance of conversion.
  3. Maintain and contain operating costs. Integrating with EMRs is not always the easiest task. However, your scheduling and reminder platforms must be able talk to each other not only for the optimal experience, but also for efficient internal process management. For example, if a patient receives a text reminder about an appointment and realizes the timing won’t work, they can request to reschedule via text. Real time communication with the EMR enables agents currently on the phone with other patients to see the original appointment open up and grab the slot. Imagine the streamlining with the patient as well in an integrated platform. Go beyond the ‘request to reschedule’ return text and send a message says “We see that you want to reschedule your appointment. Here are some alternative times available”. Take it one step further with a one-step click to schedule process. With this capability, the patient could immediately book without a follow-up phone call reminder or staff having to hunt them down to book.
  4. Faster time to serve the patient. When systems and people communicate pertinent data, faster issue resolution is possible. Healthcare can be scary, and when you address patient and caregiver needs in a timely manner, trust in your organization will grow. In omnichannel experiences, a patient can search for care in the middle of the night online, and when they don’t find an appointment opening a call could be made. Imagine the value of already knowing that a patient was searching for a sick visit for tomorrow morning with Dr. X. With this data in mind, you are able to immediately offer alternatives and keep that patient in your system before they turn to a more convenient option.

You can see how omnichannel experiences are going to pave the way for the future of the contact center. Right now, the interactions with patients before and after treatment provide an enormous opportunity to build trust and further engagement with your organization. By integrating the data and allowing cross-channel experiences that build on each other, the contact center will extend into the main hub of engagement in the future. The time to build that integrated infrastructure is now, because in the near future new channels of engagement will be added and expected. Are you ready to deliver an omnichannel experience?

The Communication Solutions Series of blog posts is sponsored by Stericycle Communication Solutions, a leading provider of high quality call center & telephone answering servicespatient access services and automated communication technology. Stericycle Communication Solutions combines a human touch with innovative technology to deliver best-in-class communication services.  Connect with Stericycle Communication Solutions on social media: @StericycleComms

Value-sizing The Patient Experience

Posted on June 8, 2017 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Sarah Bennight, Marketing Strategist for Stericycle Communication Solutions, as part of the Communication Solutions Series of blog posts. Follow and engage with them on Twitter: @StericycleComms

In health IT, we talk about the patient experience all the time. Many of us have dedicated our entire careers to improving the patient experience. It has become so central to improving healthcare that patient-reported experience results determine a significant portion of reimbursement.

But today’s patient experiences do beg the question: are they a pie in the sky dream or something tangible that can be addressed in our organizations?

To tackle the patient experience, we have to audit all contact points to determine areas of weakness. A great way to start is by creating a healthcare consumer journey map. Identifying each point a patient could potentially interact with your organization is key to ensuring their experience will be great. Once you have identified each potential encounter, mystery shop that experience as if you were the patient to test your brand’s current performance. When determining whether or not your organization provides a great brand experience, you may find yourself comparing your performance to the top brands you work with on a daily basis.

For example, I recall a time when I studied abroad in the United Kingdom. Upon arriving in a foreign country after 22 hours of travel with little sleep, I needed to eat. I vaguely recalled passing a familiar restaurant sign on the way to my flat: McDonalds. And though I didn’t really love the golden arches at the time, I chose to eat there. Why? Because I knew what to expect. I knew how to order, what menu items would be available, and what it would taste like.

By focusing on consistent interactions and expectations for their customers, McDonalds has created a strong brand. In fact, when asked about introducing new products during a 2010 CNBC interview, former CEO James Skinner said “[McDonald’s doesn’t] put something on the menu until it can be produced at the speed of McDonalds.”

Can your healthcare consumers count on a consistent experience when contacting your organization? Your brand experience should encompass the entire health system to build confidence and loyalty in your brand. Creating consistency across each encounter begins with simple questions. Was their initial call met with a timely, sincere, and welcoming voice? Was parking convenient? Are average waiting times reasonable? Do Center A and Center B provide the same quality support? Is their bill easy to understand? If your answers are all yes, it’s more likely that patients will continue to choose your organization.

When patients feel confidence about provided services and perceive value in the care you provide, brand loyalty is achieved. What’s more, many studies show that patients who have great healthcare experiences and are confident in the level of care they receive will have better clinical outcomes. Value-based care demands consistent, evidence-based clinical interactions. But we can’t leave out the important patient experience outside the walls of the exam room.

After my exhaustive travels, I certainly had a better outcome by relying on my trust in McDonalds’ brand. I chose to value-size my meals frequently throughout my England journey – not because it was the best tasting food, but because I could always rely on consistently convenient and quality experiences. The healthcare industry can certainly learn a lot more from cutting edge commercial companies when it comes to creating loyalty. To learn more about the patient journey and loyalty, download our e-book.

The Communication Solutions Series of blog posts is sponsored by Stericycle Communication Solutions, a leading provider of high quality call center & telephone answering servicespatient access services and automated communication technology. Stericycle Communication Solutions combines a human touch with innovative technology to deliver best-in-class communication services.  Connect with Stericycle Communication Solutions on social media: @StericycleComms

Healthcare Content Creation for the Audience Economy – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on April 11, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 4/14 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Jess Clifton (@jslentzclifton), Sarah Bennight (@sarahbennight), and Steve Sisko (@shimcode) on the topic of “Healthcare Content Creation for the Audience Economy”.

The Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference (HITMC) took place last week and, as would be expected from an event largely attended by “marketing people,” social media lit up with content, insight, opinions and a bit of wackiness. Almost 2200 tweets were shared on Twitter alone during the three-day conference with the lion’s share of those tweets addressing the following topics:

  • Inspiration including leveraging influencer/champions, employees and the importance of passion
  • Content including case studies, personalization, repurposing, strategies, and use of experts as content creators.
  • Buyer Personas & Customer Journeys
  • Importance of Video and visual content
  • Innovation
  • Pitching media outlets and others to convey your content
  • Tips, tips and more tips

Based on the above and all the good information emanating from the HITMC event, this week’s #HITsm chat will explore “Healthcare Content Creation for the Audience Economy” via the following topics:

The Questions
T1: What are some of the ways content & messages can be made inspirational and humanized? #HITsm

T2: What are characteristics of a ‘good’ SME and how do you identify SME’s in your organization, tribe, circle of associates? #HITsm

T3: What are most effective types of ‘personalized content’ to share w/ a buyer & at what point in their journey? #HITsm

T4: What are some of the ways video can be used to market and support healthcare products/services?  #HITsm

T5: What’s not going to change in Healthcare in the next 10 years and how will content remain the same as it is today? #HITsm

Bonus: What are some of the best content marketing tips you learned at the HITMC? Or would like to share if you didn’t attend? #HITsm

Content, Insight, Opinions, Tips & Bits of Wackiness from #HITMC
For a curated list of tweets emanating from the HITMC event, check out this blog post.

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
4/21 – Innovation vs Incremental
Hosted by @Colin_Hung

4/28 – TBD

5/5 – TBD
Hosted by @IntelHealth

We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always let us know if you have ideas for how to make #HITsm better.

If you’re searching for the latest #HITsm chat, you can always find the latest #HITsm chat and schedule of chats here.

#HITsm and #hcldr Meetup at #HIMSS17 (And Online)

Posted on February 21, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I was excited to join forces with my friend Colin Hung and do a combined meetup with the #HITsm and #hcldr communities at the HIMSS 2017 conference. There’s so much overlap between the two communities, we didn’t see any reason to do something separately.

After a lot of discussions, we decided to go back to our roots and return to the old meetup style. So, we’re meeting in the lobby outside of Hall D on Tuesday, 2/21 at 10 AM ET (7 AM PT). We’ve also enlisted the help of some great people to facilitate those who show up for the meetup (Thanks @mandibpro, @shahidnshah, @sarahbennight).

There’s not really a formal agenda per se. However, we do have a fun social activity for people to participate in. Plus, even if you’re not at the event, you can participate remotely. Here’s the format if you plan to participate remotely.

At 10 AM ET (7 AM PT), you can start by introducing yourself, what you do, and a fun fact or something interesting about you.

Shortly after that, take out a piece of paper or a whiteboard in your office and answer the question “How can we #ImproveHealthcare?”. Once you’ve answered the question on paper or the whiteboard, take a picture of you with the answer and tweet it out with the question “How can we #ImproveHealthcare?” and the hashtags: #hcldr #HITsm and #HIMSS17.

The great news is that @JoeBabaian will be taking care of managing those that are participating remotely. Plus, those of us that are in attendance live will be doing the same. So, we will be able to see the remote messages and those people following along remotely will be able to see our messages from HIMSS.

That’s all. Simple and sweet. We hope you’ll join us. Plus, if are following along at home, you can check out all of the tweets people are sharing here.

#FakeICDCodes for #HIMSS17

Posted on February 13, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In the world of Healthcare IT, we’re all consumed by the HIMSS Annual Conference happening next week in Orlando. You’ve probably realized that as you’ve read about my HIMSS17 Meetups, my HIMSS17 Conference and Social Media Resources, and my HIMSS17 Tips for Hospital Professionals. Oh yes, and of course my New Media Meetup Party (Be sure to register if you plan to attend). We’ll get back to our regularly scheduled programming after next week. Until then, we’ll try to give you a glimpse into the HIMSS conference experience along with insights, perspectives, and a little industry humor.

With that in mind, I was really excited when the brilliant Sarah Bennight, Marketing Strategist at Stericycle’s Enterprise Healthcare Group, shared the idea of #FakeICDCodes with me. In a lot of ways, this is a take off of the humorous ICD-10 codes list that were so popular, but applied to HIMSS17 and the healthcare IT industry as a whole with a little nod to the #FakeNews world.

Here are some sample #FakeICDCodes that I’m sure you’ll appreciate if you’ve taken part in HIMSS or some other large conference.

We’ll be sharing a bunch of other humorous #FakeICDCodes over the next couple weeks if you want to see them all on Twitter. Plus, this doesn’t just apply to #HIMSS17. These codes can apply to the industry year round. Feel free to join in and share your own #FakeICDCodes. We look forward to seeing what creative ones you come up with and share.