The true meaning of patient relationship management

The first goal of the healthcare Triple Aim is "improving the patient experience of care" (including quality and satisfaction).

One key to making the patient experience more satisfying is to strengthen communication to develop better patient relationships. Too often, however, patients perceive communications from providers as impersonal. Additionally, many patients rarely receive meaningful communication from hospitals after discharge.

Providers who do focus on improving patient relationships are often hindered by time and resource restraints. As a result, patient relationship management (PRM) systems that can streamline and automate effective communication are growing in popularity.

But what does PRM really mean for your organization? It's best summarized by three ideas.

Opening a dialogue between providers and patients
Improving any relationship requires ongoing dialog between the two parties. PRM systems facilitate exchanges between providers and patients that span medical appointments while simultaneously delivering real value. Examples include:

- Patient Surveys - For a hospital, there is no better tool available than patient surveys for concurrently receiving feedback and solidifying relationships. To patients, they demonstrate that the hospital cares about quality and satisfaction, and can provide pointers to improvements in both areas. Automated and customizable surveys save valuable time while promoting uniformity and consistency.

- Social Media - Social media has transformed how patients manage their own care and evaluate providers, with patients flocking to social media for assistance in their healthcare decision-making. Seventy-two percent of internet users search for health information online,1 and consumers now say the internet influences their purchase decisions almost as much as television does.2 Maintaining an engaging social media presence through PRM software is an effective means to patient engagement and relationship-building while establishing thought leadership.

Helping patients better participate in their own care
One of the most effective ways of improving patient satisfaction is to help patients take a more active role in their care, and that means education and adherence. PRM systems enable organizations to easily distribute customized patient education resources, including targeted information matched to specific patient health needs. Examples include:

- Newsletters - While newsletters can cover a range of health-related topics, PRM systems are able to leverage built-in analytics to deliver content to targeted patient groups. This ensures patients receive the most impactful information to their care plans, enabling them to better adhere to treatments and improve their overall wellness.

- Appointment Reminders – Adherence is also heavily dependent on keeping appointments. A PRM system's customizable reminder messages can take into account a patient's preferred method of communication (email, phone or text), maximizing visibility and impact to ensure a more complete continuum of care.

Maximizing the impact of the digital health transformation
As patients assume greater responsibility for the cost of their care, their increasing consumerism makes it imperative that hospitals foster more meaningful patient engagement. Yet hospitals continue to lag behind consumer expectations for engagement. For example, a recent study found hospitals are engaging only two percent of its patients through mobile apps, while more than half of consumers want to use their smartphones to interact with providers.3

The capabilities of a PRM system — e-newsletters, appointment reminders, surveys, social media and much more — help hospitals optimize their patient communication and engagement beyond in-patient opportunities and into the modes patients increasingly desire following discharge. A commitment to consistent patient communication throughout the continuum of care will leave a lasting, positive impact on patients. When hospitals leverage PRM technology to create a dialogue with patients and improve shared decision-making, they are better positioned to grow revenue and achieve long-term success.

1 MedCity News “How to Effectively Engage Patients on Social Media
2 Advertising Age: “What the Changing Role of Social Media Influence Means for Brands
3 Accenture Consulting “Losing Patience: Why hospitals must revive their digital health strategies

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