Patient relationship management (PRM) software is taking center stage in the battle to improve the patient experience. Essentially, PRM is customer relationship management (CRM) for healthcare. It helps practices more effectively communicate with and engage patients and tracks those interactions. For example, if a practice needs to improve reminders and recall, PRM can automate sending messages via text, email, and/or phone by pulling data from the practice management or EHR system.
Even though most of these interactions are automated, many office managers and providers still worry that patient engagement strategies take too much time. Software needs to be set up and managed, right? Will it really work if it isn’t set up correctly? How can they ensure they are using best practices? They worry about investing in new technology and not seeing a return.
Questions about how to best serve customers and ensure success are also on the minds of vendors. Much like EHRs, the success of PRM software has a lot to do with onboarding, training, and ongoing support. According to AmericaEHR, the more training physicians receive, the higher satisfaction is with the EHR. Since then, across industries, studies have shown that product adoption and success often hinges on effective training. A TSIA poll found that with proper education:
– 68 percent are able to use the product more
– 56 percent use more product features/functions
Another study found effective training directly affected retention and satisfaction with 88 percent of respondents saying training increased customer retention. When that study was released, Ramesh Ramani, Founder, and CEO of Expertus said, “Historically, customer satisfaction was viewed as an intangible activity that just happened when you delivered good products or services. It’s a positive sign that so many organizations are realizing that there are immense customer satisfaction benefits from having well informed and well-educated customers.”
Purchasing and implementing PRM technology is a priority for many practices, but some have reservations about adding this technology. To improve the process, look to vendors who offer a range of solutions for onboarding, training, and ongoing consulting and support. Some practices need little help to get up and running successfully but may need more than just a quick tutorial. Broader options—both initial and ongoing—help practices focus on patient experience without taking on more management tasks than they can handle.
Practice success improves when initial training is tied to goals. It can make training faster and more focused and allow practices to quickly implement the solutions they need most. But initial training is just the beginning. Practices need options to help them continue to maximize the software while minimizing the time and effort involved in using it. Those options should include both self-paced training and more hands-on training and consulting.
Great examples of effective self-paced solutions include customer engagement platforms, customer training webinars, and customer communities. These allow customers to get quick answers to simple questions and consumable bits of information at their convenience and are often available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For many, these tools are great but not enough. They need more guidance. For those, managed or professional services make more sense. These can include deeper training, best practice recommendations, process consulting, and even some hands-on work in the software.
For example, if a top goal is to get patients back in more often, then a service that helps develop a strategic email marketing program might make sense. An offering like this provides a review of the practice’s goals, the creation of templates and messaging, identification of targeted lists, a schedule, setting up and sending the messages, and follow up tracking. The practice is involved in setting the strategy but doesn’t have to do much to execute it.
Another example is a service that compares the practice’s processes to their goals and provides clear recommendations on how to more effectively use the software features to meet those goals. The practice receives additional training and a clear list of to-dos. The vendor follows up to make sure the tasks were completed and reviews the reporting to ensure the plan is on track. The practice has to execute some specific tasks, but they don’t have to figure it out on their own, and ongoing follow-ups ensure they get support to stay on the straight and narrow as they need it.
There are a lot of ways to offer combinations of varying levels of support to the practice can decide how much they can reasonably take on and how much they need more help with. The main thing is that from the beginning, it all ties back to practice goals and can be measured for success. When looking to add new technology like PRM, be sure to ask about all the available options, both free and paid and self-paced and supported to make sure there are plenty of options to ensure you get the most from the software.
Jim Higgins is the CEO of Solutionreach, a cloud-based patient relationship management platform. Higgins launched the company since 2000 to help support dental practices with the common, yet costly problem: patient no-shows. Since then, Higgins has innovated and guided the direction of the Solutionreach technology to meet all the patient relationship management needs of dental, vision, plastic surgery and medical practice specialties.