Article originally posted on Review of Optometric Business Feb 20, 2019
By Susan Fairchild, office manager, and Miri Park, OD
When patients want to communicate in their personal life, they often send a text, rather than make a phone call. When scheduling a doctor’s appointment, or communicating about the arrival of their eyeglasses or contact lenses, they expect the same. They want the convenience of texting a quick reply, rather than making time for a phone call.
Fortunately, our patient communication system Prime Nexus allows our practice to do just that–text patients to schedule appointments and to let them know the glasses or contacts they ordered have arrived. The latest Prime Nexus feature, Patient Chat, takes this a step further by allowing us to have whole conversations by text. This not only saves myself, and our front-desk staff, time, but increases the likelihood of a prompt reply from the patient. That prompt reply, in turn, makes it more likely that the patient will schedule an appointment, and make it into our exam chair.
Patient Satisfaction, Staff Efficiency
The beauty of Patient Chat is it creates a win-win for patient and practice. I love that the technology allows me to hold as many texting chats simultaneously as I want, while showing me the history of each of those exchanges. I can see at a glance if another member of our staff has already responded, and what the patient’s, or our staff members’, last comment or question was.
Prime Nexus automatically sends a notice two weeks prior for patients to confirm upcoming appointments. Before Patient Chat, if a patient did not respond within 10 days (following another automatic confirmation sent by Prime Nexus), someone from our office would have to call the patient, often leaving a voice mail which many patients would miss, along with their appointments.
With the ability to send a simple text message, the patient is able to quickly text back, that they can, or can’t make it, and then text back and forth over a couple minutes to reschedule if necessary. The great thing about texting, rather than calling, is patients can text back in many situations they would not be able to answer the phone, such as when they are sitting in a meeting at work.
Texting Boosts Recall Effectiveness
Close to three-quarters of our upcoming appointments confirm via the automatic text, or e-mail, that Prime Nexus sends. The Patient Chat feature then takes the effectiveness of our recall to the next level by allowing us to follow-up when necessary via text, capturing appointments that otherwise would have been lost.
Prime Nexus provides our staff with notifications if a patient with an upcoming appointment has not confirmed, which then prompts us to follow-up. The ability to then text the patient, instead of playing phone tag with them, has resulted in a practice that is now almost entirely booked at least two weeks out. The fuller appointment books connects directly to our profitability, helping us not only offer patients a convenient way to communicate with us, but another way to increase our revenues.
Communicate Office Changes & Field Questions
Over the last year, our office moved to a new location. We set Prime Nexus to send reminder notifications to all patients an hour before their appointments, and to give them the address of our office. We pointed out in these notifications that our office location had changed. Patients then could easily text us to ask for directions if they weren’t familiar with the area that our new office is located in, or if anything else about our move confused them. Many patients noted to our staff that they were glad that we both automatically sent them the reminder about the appointment coming up in the next hour, and that the notification pointed out our new address.
Less Time Spent On The Phone Means More In-Person Time
When the staff is tied up on the phone confirming appointments and letting patients know about the arrival of glasses or contacts, they are not able to give as much attention to what’s happening right under their noses in the office.
With most communications for scheduling and product arrival now requiring no more than a couple minutes texting–if that–our staff can pay better attention to the patients in front of us. That means less interruptions in the optical while helping patients select all the eyewear the doctor prescribed, and more time to provide a hospitable and welcoming environment in greeting every patient who walks through our door. Now, newly arriving patients are less likely to find the receptionist on the phone and experience a positive first impression by being immediately greeted.
The Texting Solution We’ve Been Waiting For
We’ve used–and loved–Prime Nexus for years, but eagerly awaited the ability to go even further in our communication with patients with texting functionality. Patient Chat is the technology we’ve been waiting for, and it has far exceeded our expectations.
Patients hear from us, and respond, in as little as a minute, and those patients in our office have a staff that’s not preoccupied on the phone, and can give 100 percent of their focus to ensuring each patient has the best care possible.