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communications to increase patient engagement

12 top tips for increasing patient engagement this winter season

Emma Workman

2nd September 2022

Engaging patients can be challenging but it's vital to keep your patients well informed and healthy, and for the smooth running of your practice. With the flu and COVID vaccine season fast approaching, plus added pressures on surgeries to deliver more for less, we look at some top tips for helping to streamline your vaccination programmes and improve patient engagement with effective communication.

1. Know your patients

Ensuring patient data is complete and up to date, greater accessibility to patient data across the full healthcare and summary care record systems. Up to date patient data can then be segmented, providing greater insight into your patients, their preferences and what cohorts engage with best. This will also help you manage and improve the effectiveness of your communications, with greater ability to create and send targeted mailings.

2. Plan, review, plan

Plan ahead so that you and your staff know your daily, weekly and monthly targets. You can then review what you have achieved and seek ways to improve so that you can continue offering the best care whilst achieving your targets. If possible scheduled your communications in advance to maximise time efficiencies and consistency.

3. Be relatable

Build patients trust by making the communications you send relatable. Making patients feel valued and understood helps build upon relationships and the response they have to you. Mail can help do this, a printed message is often valued more by the recipient. A Market Reach Study (2021) showed that 87% of people trust mail and consider it believable, making it more of a reliable and trustworthy form of communication in this day and age.

4. Use multiple media methods

Patients are becoming ever savvy and the way we communicate with them, needs to reflect this. From digital or physical or the perfect blend of both, utilising a mixture of media methods helps reinforce your messages in both personal and generic ways. Why not try a letter, followed by a text and reinforced with a generic social post - that will be sure to get your patient’s attention.

5. Try something new with a postcard

With practice updates or seasonal reminders, why not share this information by using a visually engaging postcard? A postcard acts as a way to engage with patients instantly, from the moment it lands on a doormat, and can be the perfect way to communicate those standard generic messages to your patients.

6. Be educational

Inform and educate your patients, so they know and understand the importance of receiving their flu or COVID boosters not only to protect them but those around them. A better understanding of why the NHS offers this, helps build patient trust, better practice uptake and engaged patients. Inserts are a great way to include further information in your mailings and can often be done so without additional postage costs, subject to weight bands.

7. Use concise language

Be clear about what you are wanting the patient to do. Is it to attend a flu clinic or make an appointment, are they eligible for their flu and COVID booster or just one? Being clear not only helps provide patient clarity but also decreases the additional practice traffic, and questions caused.

8. Create templates

A series of templates for your favourite approved communications can help save valuable time and help you drive engagement with messaging you know works.

9. Why not add a QR code?

QR codes provide practices with the ability to scan patient attendance at clinics, that either report back to the patient record or can be added at a later date. They can even be used to direct patients to booking systems or further information and for a contactless check-in process, which offers huge savings in time.

10. Keep it simple, send a letter

A single letter can act as a means of sending a variety of information due to its flexible design. It gives patients the chance to digest and understand the information, where they can continuously refer back to it. You can’t stick a text message on a fridge!

11. Add a strapline or logo

Letters signify importance, but sometimes, you need to go that bit further to increase engagement. By simply adding the words ‘IMPORTANT’ or ‘APPOINTMENT INFORMATION ENCLOSED’ to an outer envelope, your documents will have a 90% higher open rate than a plain white one (TEU, 2022).

12. Talk to other practices

Talking to other practices not only helps share knowledge but also might spark some great ideas. You aren’t in this alone, practices across the country are all working towards increasing their patient engagement!

With ever growing pressures on practices in terms of staffing, budgets and multiple vaccination programmes this autumn/winter, it’s never been more important to find effective and efficient ways to communicate with your patients.

Pulling upon these top tips in isolation or combining a few, will help increase patient confidence and understanding and could help streamline some of your processes. Ultimately helping to reduce the number of ‘do not attends’ your practice will receive this winter, and helping with appointment allocation, saving your practice time and money.

Companies like CFH Docmail Limited, are experts in helping practices increase patient engagement by incorporating these top tips into their patients’ communications. Already used by 4,000 medical organisations, CFH’s hybrid mail service, Docmail, is used to streamlined practice communications, all whilst incorporating the these top tips into physical mailings.

Why not find out how we can further enhance your communications, by visiting our other blogs here or by getting in touch below.

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