Patient Engagement Strategies for Pediatricians

Patient Engagement Strategies for Independent Pediatric Practices

Many people believe that the best businesses are founded during tough economic times. Leaner circumstances force organizations to justify their existence, compelling them to make smarter choices, hire the right people, and establish a solid foundation before branching outward.

The operations and success of pediatric practices are no different. Practices that are not continually looking for opportunities for growth and change will not thrive. The best way to do this is by reframing how care is delivered and how practices are managed. It helps break down constraints and reconsiders existing structures that may be holding you back from giving patients and their families what they need.

Practices can do this by taking advantage of innovations that have grown in popularity over the last several years – like social media and telehealth – to offer a more personalized experience. Thanks to technology, you can be more connected to your patients and their families outside the walls of your office.

Here are a few different tips your practice can use to help cultivate this connection and improve patient engagement.

Update Your Website and Social Media Presence

These days, businesses without an online presence are in the minority. After all, if you don’t have an online platform where patients can get information, how will they find you? Young, millennial parents are digital experts who go to Google when they are searching for everything from a new television to a new pediatrician. Did you ever imagine that someone would buy a new home online, sight unseen? The reality is, if people are willing to make that sort of investment in a big-ticket item, they may be willing to search and conduct all of their business transactions online.

All pediatric practices should have an updated website and social media presence. Start by Googling “pediatrician”  along with your city or zip code. If you’re not at the top of the search results or your online presence isn’t inviting and easy to navigate, you need to prioritize this task. Word of mouth only travels so far, but anyone can do an online search. Use findability to your advantage.

Communicate and Connect Creatively

As a pediatrician, you’re focused on providing high-quality, compassionate care to your patients. And as a testament to your commitment, you may have a PCMH-certified practice. However, buzzwords like “medical home” often don’t resonate with patients and their parents. Keeping parents and patients in the conversation is important. Engage them during the visit and speak “their” language when communicating with them.

Families want providers who meet them where they are to give them the care they need. That often means providing telehealth visits for busy families, but there are other ways you can communicate outside of a routine appointment. For example, you might do a Facebook Live every Saturday afternoon or meet families at a local daycare by offering a presentation on popular topics like breastfeeding, flu season, or age-appropriate growth and developmental milestones.

Another great way to connect with families in your practice is by sharing information through blog posts and articles. This will help more people discover your practice online and will make it simpler for existing families to access information without needing to call your practice first. Place patient education materials prominently on your website so it’s easy for parents to find. It will help reduce the number of phone calls made to your practice looking for answers to common questions and frees up valuable staff time.

Focus on Keeping Families Safe

Parents of young children want to know what measures you’re taking to ensure their safety. If you don’t share that information with them proactively, they may look elsewhere for a pediatrician who gives them that confidence.

One of the most effective ways to keep families safe is to reduce the number of handoffs by creating an office culture of accountability. This means implementing experience-based care rather than task-based care.

Handoffs in medicine leave opportunities for the ball to get dropped. Patients find that frustrating and wonder, “Why do I have to keep repeating the same story?” By reducing the number of team members interacting with each patient, and asking the same repetitive questions, parents have fewer reasons to worry about safety. Good note-keeping with appropriate levels of visibility in your EHR is a quick and easy way to do this.

Advocate for Value-Based Care

Forget what you know about fee-for-service. The time has come for value-based care. By giving patients what they need in whatever form they want, you can improve outcomes and make patients and their families feel more secure. Going forward, you should gather data and determine, “What is true value?”

From the standpoint of families, they are on your side when it comes to telehealth. Families no longer want to drive an hour and wait two hours to see a specialist for 10 minutes. Telehealth adoption allows healthcare professionals to increase patient engagement and satisfaction by:

  • ​reducing exposure to potentially infectious disease
  • decreasing the patient travel burden
  • extending access to clinicians beyond normal clinic hours
  • remaining connected to their medical home
  • reducing the need for urgent care and ER visits

It’s still up to you to determine which care is best given in person and what can be safely delivered via virtual visits or portal exchanges. Value-based care is all about providing the right care, at the right place, at the right time.

Re-Evaluate Your Workforce Options for Telehealth Appointments

Offering telehealth allows you to engage unique sections of the workforce. For example, there could be pediatricians who are parents and don’t want the 9-5 grind. However, they might be willing to see patients virtually for a couple of hours in the evening or on weekends when their spouse is home.

Additionally, folks nearing retirement might prefer to reduce their hours and would like to see patients virtually early in the morning. It’s especially important for practices with 9-5 hours to consider walk-in telehealth appointments to answer pressing questions like, “Should I send my child to school today?” or “Are my child’s symptoms worthy of an in-person visit, or should they just stay home and rest?”

Virtual walk-in hours also are great for evenings because they help parents who are trying to reinvent their workday for tomorrow if a child is sick. Evening telehealth availability may be just what your practice needs to compete with urgent care centers and direct-to-consumer models.

The Time for Change is Now

As healthcare continues to reinvent itself, take this opportunity to do what’s right for your businesses, your patients, your families, and your communities. If you want to survive as an independent practice, it’s up to you to reimagine what the future of medicine looks like for you.

We win when we do this together. Collective ideas spark other collective ideas, which leads to innovation, which leads to change. And that’s what you and your families desperately need in the healthcare community.

EHRs are the key to streamlining operations, identifying efficiencies, and freeing up valuable time for clients. OPs EHR and Revenue Cycle Management solutions offer features designed to help keep your practice’s financial and clinical operations running smoothly, so you can focus on what you do best – taking care of your patients. To learn how Office Practicum can help your pediatric practice operate at its best, contact us today.

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