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Best Practice: Patient communication management this winter

Emma Workman

21st July 2021

Communicating with patients effectively has always been a vital skill for medical professionals to drive patient engagement and responses and help improve patient outcomes. More recently, there has been a growing emphasis on using communication to effectively manage patient footfall during large vaccine events and in-house appointments as well as provide additional information to educate patients this winter.

With over 50’s likely to be offered both the flu vaccination and COVID-19 booster vaccination from September, it’s more important than ever for practices to plan ahead where possible and manage communications in a way that benefits both parties involved.

But how do practices ensure they can effectively manage their vitally important patient communications this winter season?

It all starts with a patient centric approach

‘Every patient is an individual who has their own special needs, what is important for one person may be insignificant for another and good communication is very important in identifying this’ (Markides, 2011). By having patients at the core, it provides practices with an understanding of the differing requirements and how best to support those who rely upon them so heavily.

It’s about providing the information that is required and breaking down barriers so that patients can be engaged, educated and make informed decisions.

The right channels

Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital communications, to have a truly patient centric approach communication preferences need to be considered.

To contact your patient successfully, the channels used need to be accepted by the patient cohorts, easy to manage and enable practices to share important updates that will be required this winter season. What’s more the communication needs to be remembered and engaged with by your patients and that’s why it important for patient communications to be smart. Smart for the practices and smart for patients - to benefit all involved.

To do this, practices require the adoption of a hybrid communication approach, whereby they utilise different types of media to communicate and engage with patients.

This approach allows communication to be sent at the right time, to the right person to deliver meaningful information and content that drives patient engagement and improve outcomes.

From postal communications, emails, website updates, social media posts and text messages a multi-channel approach offers patient communication control, time-efficiencies and security to deliver the content required to manage patient interactions this winter.

To really drive responses from the outset practices are opting to use postal communications as a means of providing patient cohorts with everything they need to know regarding the flu and COVID-19 vaccination booster in one place.

This communication is then supported by a means of additional media channels, including text, social and website updates to provide a 360-communication approach to attract and engage patients. But for this to be effective, the real work starts with data.

Keeping data up to date

With larger eligible patient cohorts in 2021, it’s more important than ever practices have up to date, data that can be used to target patients and increase their response rate. Data can be cleansed before and throughout the winter season and is a process that practices should adopt and carry out throughout the year.

Data cleansing can be done during routine appointments, via telephone consultations or by inviting patients to check and up-date their details where required via postal forms. Whilst this might take up vital practice time, it is critical for patient records to be up to date not only for the practice but for the patient summary record too.

Having the correct data, will help practices prioritise who they need to target in regards to the flu and COVID-19 vaccinations, as well as other heath related check-ups and vaccinations and help with the management of demand they are likely to receive.

Partnering with a patient-communication provider

With accessible data, pre-planned communications and a choice of media channels practices are now ready to begin the management and sending of their patient communications. But with the increase in patient eligibility this year, it is not a task that is likely to be managed in house. So who do they partner with?

CFH Docmail Limited.

With a proven history of supporting medical practices, CFH Docmail have a market leading communication management system, Docmail, that offers a secure, hybrid communication approach that can support and manage practice communications.

Through leading security accreditations and industry expert relationships, the NHS approved solution supports over 3,000 medical practices in improving patient communications and driving engagement when it matters.

We fully understand the challenges that medical practices are facing this winter and are there to support you every step of the way. If you would like to find out more about how we could help you with your patient communications this winter, please get in touch we’d love to talk to you about how we can help.

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