Organizations juggle multiple modes of communication with patients

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Indiana University Health is developing guiding principles that emphasize the use of communication technologies to interact with consumers.


Consumers have a variety of ways to communicate with suppliers, and organizations seek to optimize these interactions to improve efficiency.

Provider organizations seek to improve communication with patients, but are challenged to bring more rationality to their efforts.

Organizations such as Indiana University Health attempt to communicate effectively with patients, in their preferred way, and throughout an encounter, from the start of the care sequence through when payment discussions are involved.

These initiatives to optimize communication with patients are the subject of an educational session in the upcoming HDM KLASroom educational series on improving patient experience and engagement. The series, which will take place on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from September 20-29, will focus on the adoption and application of technologies and approaches to better respond to healthcare consumerism.

Evolutionary approach

Early patient communication initiatives had simple goals, such as sending appointment reminders to reduce no-show rates, says Dan Czech, senior knowledge manager at KLAS Research. Orem, Utah-based health informatics has focused more on consumer perceptions of vendors and technology. He will share his research involving 13,000 consumers during the HDM KLASroom session, scheduled for 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday, September 27.

Early efforts were aimed at “generating more supplier-centric results,” says Czech. But the increased maturity of communication platforms has resulted in a dialogue with consumers that “goes far beyond simple appointment reminders to broadcast messages, payment collection and clinical-like communications”.

Such wider communication is essential as patient expectations rise and care teams increasingly want to provide streamlined communications – pioneering institutions are beginning to see the importance of transparent communication as a key determinant of patient experience.

The variety of communication types has resulted in greater focus on patient journeys at IU Health, a 16-hospital system that also operates more than 300 primary and specialty care offices statewide.

Major Inflection Points

The system sought to better understand the variety of communication channels it has with patients, says Jeremy Rogers, executive director of digital marketing and system experience. “In terms of automation and prioritization, there’s a lot of that today – it’s really kind of a checkerboard, because there are automated and manual patient interventions.”

As healthcare organizations gain experience in patient engagement, they need “better and deeper communication…to help drive better outcomes, to drive better retention , better engagement and partnership in (patient) health,” says Rogers.

Communication requires nuance and respect for patient preferences, he notes. A patient may want to receive an SMS for an appointment reminder, but may not want this form of communication for a clinical outcome or billing reminder. Many providers “inundate our patients with messages all week long, all day long; you have to take a step back and really start to inventory them,” adds Rogers. “What are all the different ways we connect with our patients today? Are they properly orchestrated? Is there a better way to sequence them or stagger them or prioritize them? So if a patient has to decide what’s most important, they shouldn’t be guessing from the multiple communications of your brand from your healthcare system. »

IU Health has defined a set of guiding principles for its patient communication strategy. They include the use of a patient engagement framework; fostering patient-centered decision-making by addressing their needs, wants, and preferences; and reflect governance and maturity models.

Rogers says the organization has developed hundreds of “patient segment journeys” that refine its efforts to communicate with patients, and he will discuss the rationale for them at the upcoming HDM KLASroom session.

To register for the event, click here.

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