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May 1 2013   10:04AM GMT

Personalized digital communication for effective patient engagement



Posted by: Jenny Laurello
digital communication, doctor-patient communication, Patient engagement

scott zimmermanGuest post by Scott Zimmerman, president, TeleVox Software, Inc.

Providers are now using engagement communications, such as educational email campaigns, informational videos, and text messages and voicemail reminders, to help patients manage their own health and give them a more personal experience. Most of us have met with a doctor who took an extra five minutes to ask about our job or family. Doing so can make patients feel connected to their care and motivate them take responsibility for their health. Building trust and a sense of safety with doctors through interpersonal communication is essential to maintaining a solid patient-physician relationship. This closeness is now being widely achieved via new technology.

As digital healthcare technology becomes more widely used, doctors are finally beginning to achieve the appropriate amount of communication that patients desire. Our TeleVox Healthy World research found that 85% of patients in the U.S. felt that digital communications such as emails, text messages, and voicemails are as helpful, if not more helpful, than in-person conversations with their healthcare provider. We also found that more than 35% of those who don’t follow exact treatment plans said they would be more likely to follow directions if they received reminders from their doctors via email, voicemail or text.

We also discovered that trust is crucial when discussing treatment plans, and that doing so ”virtually” can make the process easier and more cost-effective. Our research showed that 34% percent of U.S. consumers said they would be more honest when talking about their medical needs through an automated call, email or text message than in person with a healthcare provider. Another 30% asserted that receiving patient care between visits via text messages, voicemails or emails would increase trust in their provider.

Doctors can maintain a level of trust with their patients by tailoring their message to make sure patients don’t feel overloaded with impersonal “blasts” or junk communications. Patients told us that while implementing digital healthcare can make things easier and faster, they still need communication that relates to them individually and is personalized with their name. More than half (52%) of men we surveyed said the communication they receive from healthcare professionals should be relevant to them as an individual, and 55% of women said the same. More than a third (37%) of men and 34% of women said they would ignore or refuse digital healthcare communication if wasn’t personalized with their name.

There may not be enough time to fully engage and motivate a patient during a face-to-face visit, but through mobile devices and other technology, doctors are able to personalize their communication with patients to provide regular information, support and encouragement to help them take more responsibility for their health. As it continues to shape other areas of our culture, a higher prevalence of digital technology usage should be expected within our healthcare system. High tech communication is a fast, cost-effective and personalized ways to reach large audiences. This combination helps make patients feel engaged and supported.

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