How to Use Technology to Engage with Patients

One of the most essential relationships a person can have is with their medical practice. A good relationship leads to patients who are better educated about their health, more comfortable asking questions, and more likely to return for visits.

Developing stronger relationships should be at the top of every medical professionals’ to-do list, whether they are a doctor, a nurse, or a rheumatology practice manager. Luckily, there are many ways to engage patients, and one of the latest is through technology. In today’s current climate, technology has never been more critical.

Below are five ways to foster stronger relationships with your patients through technology.

Implement a patient portal.

Frequently, patients will have questions about their medical history, test results, current medications, and so on. Answering these questions outside of an appointment can be time-consuming for practice staff, and they may not be able to provide the answers as quickly as patients would like.

A robust patient portal puts the patient in the driver’s seat. He or she can access medical records anytime from anywhere, by logging into the secured system with a password. This real-time access allows patients to quickly obtain information without taking staff off task. Providers can upload educational materials to the portal for patients to access.

Interact with patients virtually.

Physicians and medical staff can use mobile technology, such as video chat and instant message, to communicate with patients between visits. If patients have a question or need assistance, but do not have the time or ability to make an appointment, these visits can be held virtually. Some practices are even lending tablets to their patients that can be used to track stats, which are sent to the physician automatically.

Finally, virtual visits are a great way to coach patients, educate them, and keep them motivated. Just remember that any platform you use must be HIPAA compliant to protect the privacy of your patient and your practice.

Appointment reminders.

Integrated technology can send appointment reminders to a patient’s various communication devices, ensuring the individual sees the reminder and responds to it. Appointment confirmations and cancellations automatically update the system’s electronic scheduler, allowing the practice to keep its schedule up-to-date and fill cancellations as soon as possible.

Electronic reminders help prevent no-shows by reminding patients of an appointment before it occurs. This is especially helpful for specialty practices because patients make appointments three-to-six months in advance, and by the time the appointment comes around, they may have forgotten about them.

Connect with patients on social media.

Using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram is an excellent way to connect with your patients and make them feel more comfortable with your practice. While you cannot and should not share personal medical information in a public forum, you can create a business page to share general health tips and information about your practice.

Providing a behind-the-scenes look at your practice, along with some personal details about your staff, is a great way for patients to feel as if they “know” you. This increases trust and loyalty and will make them more comfortable coming in for an appointment.

Monitor your online reviews.

Word-of-mouth is still the best way to market your practice and nowhere does news travel faster than on the internet. There are many sites, such as Facebook and Yelp, where patients will share their experience at your practice with other patients. It is a great idea to monitor those sites and address any negative feedback you receive quickly, thoroughly, and—if possible—publicly. This will help preserve your good reputation and improve your patient’s trust.

We hope these tips help you find new ways to connect with and engage your patients! If you have any other success stories, be sure to let us know via our Facebook page.

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  • As a speaker at the first ad hoc meeting of rheumatology practice managers gathered in a single small room at its infancy a decade ago, I’m amazed to see how NORM has blossomed into a high energy organization of depth and professional meetings with parallel break-out symposia between plenary sessions. NORM has truly come of age. This is where the “business” of rheumatology gets learned. The ”guildmanship” for rheumatology practice management is now strong.- Paul H. Caldron, DO, FACP, FACR, MBA, Arizona Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates
  • In a time of demanding changes in the management of medical practices in the US, NORM has been a lifesaver to the community of Rheumatology practices.  NORM has allowed our practice to stay ahead of the many demands of CMS and others payors and has ensured that our practice remains cognizant of new issues that arise in HIPPA compliance, human resources and medical billing to name a few. Sending our Practice Manager to NORM's conferences has been cost-effective and beneficial to our practice because she returns to our office with an abundance of information that otherwise would have taken months to compile. Every Rheumatology practice that wishes to stay on top of emerging issues in practice management should consider sending a member of their staff to NORM's conference.- Michael S. Rosen M.D., Chester County Rheumatology PC
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