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Choosing the right communication methods for your practice

by in Communications, Patients

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant it’s more important than ever to stay in touch with your patients. Regular communication keeps them informed of new practice processes and how these are supporting their health and well-being.

But with many communication methods to choose from, how do you know which one will work best?

What types of communication can be used?

Emails

Your patients will probably have received higher volumes of emails in recent weeks as many companies compete to grab their attention. This provides a challenge to medical practices when trying to stand out from an already overcrowded inbox.

There are many quick fixes to stop your emails being lost in the crowd, such as using bold and direct subject lines to highlight where the email has come from and bright visuals. This can all be achieved whilst remaining professional in tone.

Emails are best used to provide generic practice updates and to remind your patients that you’re still there when needed. Emails are delivered to your patients directly, no matter where they are. They can also be used to direct patients to your website for further information, and this information may help to reduce the number of phone calls your practice receives.

Text messages

Text messages are the ideal way to send short, concise pieces of information direct to your patients.

This form of communication is best used for appointment reminders or to direct your patients to your website for further information. Beyond this, texts can be used to send reminders about opening hours and changes in practice processes.

As mobile contact details change regularly, it’s vital to check these details when patients visit the practice to avoid your message being lost. This method works best with millennials and those who are tech savvy, but it’s quick and easy to implement regularly as part of your clinical systems.

Social media

Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter are the perfect medium for sharing instant practice updates and for answering any questions or queries your patients may have. Accounts are free to set up, easy to manage and can be monitored internally and externally, providing a 24/7 communication service if required.

Being active on social media can provide instant benefits for you and your staff. It allows you to promote your new practice processes, answer questions before they’re asked and interact with your patients regularly.

Remember, you need to gain traction on your sites to ensure your message is heard. Encourage people to follow your pages by uploading interactive or fun posts that will keep them engaged – e.g. how your practice is getting involved in fundraising events.

This communication channel can’t be used to contact all your patients, but it provides a friendlier, personal approach that allows you to interact with your patients and reassure them you’re still there and part of the community.

Letters

Letters act as the perfect tool to communicate detailed and sensitive information. This form of communication is commonly used for appointments, test results, to provide important updates and information to all demographics. There are letter templates available to help with COVID-19 advice, which can be found on the NHS website, under the Resources section here.

Whilst other forms of communication can be used to reach your at-risk groups, a letter is likely to generate the greatest response. By posting a letter, your patients are more likely to receive the information safely (people change postal addresses less frequently than mobile numbers) and engage with it, as a printed document is perceived to be of greater importance. So it’s a perfect way to target those harder-to-reach patients who may not be responsive to other forms of communication.

Whilst this can be seen as a high-cost resource, both in terms of money and staff time, there are software services available to help you send multiple or single letters for less than a franking machine. The software records the correspondence against the patient record, acting as a reporting function for your patient communication strategy.

An example of this type of software solution is the Docmail Print Driver.

Letters remain one of the most effective and reliable forms of communication, with local authorities opting to send letters in the post to communicate the importance of staying at home during these unprecedented times. So why change something you know works well?

Summary

As well as email, text messages, social media posts and letters, your own website, posters and telephone calls are great ways to communicate with your patients – each approach just needs to be carefully considered in terms of your patient cohorts.

Having a detailed communication strategy will not only help to keep your patients informed during these worrying times, it will also help in the future.

For support with your communication strategy, contact Docmail via their page here

This blog has been written by Docmail. 

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