Getting in touch with patients when they need to be recalled for follow ups or test results is typically time consuming and difficult. More often than not, it’s a mixture of phone tag, voicemails, and letters.
These measures cost practices both time and money – and aren’t the best in terms of patient experience either.
Most practices are missing out on a huge opportunity to deepen their relationships with patients.
We have done our research into the best forms of communication between practices and patients. Here, we share why SMS interactions are preferred by your patients and are better for your business.
1. Patients prefer SMS for recalls
Patients increasingly expect and demand SMS communication from all manner of services (be it hairdressers, food delivery or other healthcare providers).
When compared to letters, SMS has some clear advantages.
- At least 80% of Australians own a smartphone, and on average we use our phones 150 times per day.
- People typically always carry their phone when out & about, so you’re more likely to reach the patient
- Patients can respond instantly to an SMS, which improves their response rates to recalls
- SMS messages do not require an internet connection, which, as the RACGP points out, makes text messaging prompt and immediate
2. SMS makes it easier for patients to rebook
It’s not always easy to inspire patient loyalty, but communicating with patients through the channels they prefer is a great place to start.
Patients who receive SMS recalls and can instantly book in for follow-up appointments are much more likely to do so, because it’s simple, in the moment, and convenient for them.
Sending SMS recalls puts your practice front-and-centre just when your patient needs you to be. It makes your practice the easiest, most natural choice for their next appointment.
One of the features of the HealthEngine Recalls product, is it that the SMS prompts people to immediately book online for their follow up appointment with you – making it a seamless experience for both patients and practices.
3. SMS recalls save your practice time and money
The average practice sends 200 recall letters per month, at a cost of close to $500. That’s significant expense going out the door – especially when many of those letters may go unanswered.
And it’s not just stationery and postage costs. In practices with 2-3 FTE (full-time equivalent) practitioners we typically see 10 hours per week going into recalls. At a human resource cost of $35-50 per hour, that works out at about $400 per week!
The reality is that practices lose time and money on recalling patients, when it should be the opposite. Recalls present an opportunity to fill your appointment books with loyal returning patients.
Instead of spending hours a week processing and mailing recalls, your front desk staff could use that time to better engage with patients, whilst your practice nurse could be offering value add services such as free blood pressure checks to those in the waiting room. By using automated SMS recalls, you also enhance the wider patient experience at your whole practice.
We often hear that practices are hesitant to engage in an SMS product, because of concern about cost and the confusing nature of messy credit bundles. After consulting with a range of practices across Australia, HealthEngine has developed a Recalls product that enables practices to send unlimited SMS recalls to their patient base, all for one fixed monthly fee. No more messy credit bundles!
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4. Security and Compliance
SMS recalls provide an accepted and transparent auditing trail for your practice, as you can use them to track your attempts to recall patients for clinical appointments. This is particularly valuable for accreditation.
HealthEngine Recalls integrates with your Practice Management Software, meaning actions are recorded against each patient’s file. This is useful for auditing and accountability purposes.
Not only that, but our Recalls product also employs a three step verification process which is RACGP compliant. This enhances the privacy of the text message, even from the home screen – as the patient must confirm their identification details in order to open the recalls link. This three step process ensures patient data is kept secure at all times, and prevents accidental viewing by anyone else who may have access to the patient’s phone.
Patient expectations are changing. In an increasingly competitive market, where patient loyalty is no longer guaranteed, SMS communications with patients is the route many practices are taking to deepen their patient relationships.
The key benefits HealthEngine customers experience with Recalls:
- Save time (freeing up staff for more worthwhile / complex tasks)
- Save money (costs on postage, printing and stationery)
- Improve patient response rates to recalls
- Unlimited SMS recalls with a flat monthly fee (no messy credit bundles!)
- Reducing nurse / front desk staff workload
- Deepening relationships with patients so they keep coming back