When looking for ways to improve the overall patient experience, one of the key elements we focus on is communication. It is a well-known fact that effective communication is the core component of sound patient relationships. Digital patient communication services like automated messages, digital forms and online booking have a big impact on practices due its effectiveness in communicating information. Patients greatly appreciate tools that give them information and the ability to complete simple tasks with ease and convenience.
Another aspect of communication frequently overlooked is inter-office communication. Building processes and creating a smooth patient ‘hand-off’ generates a positive environment for both the patient and your team. One of the best examples of great hand-offs is the passing of the baton in a relay race. The quality of the passing of the baton between two runners can determine success or failure. Many tools that can help in creating effective hand-off processes are right at your fingertips. Here are some examples:
- Patient Status Tracking. The check-in feature is the perfect hand-off tool to visually alert the whole team that the patient is in the office and ready for the next team member. Features, such as appointment color-coding and flashing help notify everyone each time the state flow of an appointment is updated. For example, the ‘In Reception’ state flow updates the appointment with an icon of a chair, which informs the admin team that clinical team has finished entering the necessary billing information. The computers at the front desk can be setup to flash, alerting everyone that the patient is on their way to the reception area.
- In Office Two-Way Communication. The ChairSide Messenger system is a messaging system that allows your team to send messages to each other. If there are speakers on your computers, you may also use sound to let the recipient know there is a new message.
- Appointment Notes and Messages. Enter appointment notes and messages letting everyone know about important conversation details. We call this the ‘One Voice’ concept. Our notes are a key source of communication and can help ensure that no matter who speaks to the patient, everyone is aware of all conversations had with the patient.
- Treatment Planning. Treatment Plans are excellent communication tools, both for educating patients, as well as for keeping everyone in the know about any required treatment. Creating phases and naming plan labels lets everyone clearly see what treatment is outstanding for patients.
- Scheduling Treatment. Linking appointments to each treatment phase is critical for proper flow as it provides:
- Notification that the patient needs to schedule one or more appointments
- A medium to pass along additional information such as the length of time required for the appointment as well as other notes necessary for the person booking the appointment.
- Reassurance if the patient leaves the office without creating an appointment, a pending appointment is there for future follow-up.
- Patient Notes. Medical notes, scheduling notes, clinical notes, and all other notes must be logged. Notes are essential for proper communication and they trigger our memory about past conversations. Imagine how impressed your patient would be if you asked about something discussed during a previous visit. Little things like this mean a lot to patients and are great relationship builders!
- Put Tasks in Writing. So many things are happening throughout the day that it is almost impossible to remember everything without creating a To Do List. Reminders, tasks and memos help trigger our memories and are assignable to one or more people.
- Team Meetings. Daily Huddles are probably the single most effective meetings you can have with your team. Your goal is to check in with team members about what your day will look like.
- Referral Tracker. Knowledge is power! Entering referral information and having it readily available to everyone at the click of a button keeps everyone informed.
- Easy Access to Documentation. Attach or scan documents directly into the patients file ready for easy and quick access.
Many more tools are available that can help your team create communication processes. Your team and your patients will immediately feel the positive, exciting and motivating aura these communication tools will bring to your office.