But it is an important tactic. As you think about your patient communication strategy for 2012, put yourself in your patients' shoes. To help, here's one example of an everyday scenario where healthcare organizations have an opportunity to improve patient outcomes — and patient satisfaction scores — using mobile as a channel.
Before mobile healthcare
Imagine a mother needs to make an appointment for a regular checkup for herself. She looks up her physician' number in the phone book, picks up the phone and calls the office. A receptionist answers, and because it is busy, she puts the mother on hold. After a few minutes, she takes out her calendar and makes an appointment.
On the morning of the appointment, the mother's child gets sick and she needs to reschedule. She looks up her physician's number again, picks up the phone and calls the office. She gets their answering service, and she can't leave a message, because it's only for emergencies. She'll have to call back when the office opens.
Meanwhile, at the physician's office, the first call of the day is from a man who needs to see the his physician last minute for an urgent condition. Unfortunately for him, the physician is booked solid, and the receptionist makes an appointment for the man for the next day.
Back at the mother's house, in between caring for her sick child and getting some things done for work while she's at home, she forgets to call the office and misses her appointment. If she had remembered to call, the receptionist could have given her appointment to the man with strep throat, but now the office has lost the revenue for good — and two patients are unhappy.
How mobile applications can make a difference
Mothers spend an average of six hours a day viewing their mobile devices, meaning the mother in our scenario probably had her mobile phone with her the entire time. That doctor's office missed a huge opportunity both to make their patients' lives easier and keep the revenue it lost due to the mother's missed appointment. And no, the answer is not overbooking. Overbooking is inefficient and expensive, and lowers patient satisfaction, especially when compared to the mobile healthcare alternative.
After mobile healthcare
Here's what our scenario looks like with mobile healthcare.
A mother needs to make an appointment for herself. She looks up her physician's name in her smartphone's web browser and goes to his mobile optimized website. She touches the option to make an appointment, fills out a quick form and sends it to the office. The office sends her a text message to confirm the appointment. The mother touches a link in the message to add it to her smartphone's calendar.
On the morning of the appointment, the mother’s child gets sick and she needs to reschedule. She goes back to the mobile site, touches the option to reschedule an appointment, provides her preferences and sends it to the office. The office sends her a text message later to confirm that her appointment has been rescheduled.
Meanwhile, at the office, the first call of the day is from a man who needs to see the doctor last minute. Because the receptionist received the mother's cancellation, she books an appointment for the man to be seen that day.
Several days after his appointment, the man receives a text message alerting him that his bill is ready. He goes to the physician's website, touches the billing option, enters his password and, within two minutes of receiving the text, pays his bill online.
For more information about mobile communications that can help increase patient satisfaction, visit http://www.thecreativecompanies.com/mobile-applications.
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