Creating a text messaging blueprint for panel management in healthcare

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Creating a text messaging blueprint for panel management in healthcare

The healthcare industry relies heavily on strategic patient engagement for smooth operations. Panel management is among the emerging requirements to optimize your practice and can become a cornerstone for your practice’s success in the near future. So let’s figure out how text messaging can prove to be highly effective for efficient panel management in the healthcare sector.

What is Panel Management?

Every business primarily focuses on client identification and enrollment. To make their services more holistic, it becomes crucial to take a proactive approach towards patient management. Panel Management is a patient relationship management strategy that focuses on taking care of the existing customer database by using various information technology tools for a broader outreach. In the healthcare industry, panel management is carried out by keeping a lookout for the existing status and needs of the clients and offering personalized care. It goes beyond appointments and focuses on easy access for the patients with the help of technology, thereby ensuring that the business practices run smoothly without overloading one component in the system. 

For efficient panel management, businesses are advised to have a dedicated team to establish a routine assessment and communication with their panel of customers. The process includes identification of potential care gaps and review of customer status followed by communication of appointment reminders for required tests or treatments. Apart from reminders, the program should also include the provision of educational materials and other services like education classes. Businesses can also market a new service or product through this approach.

Although panel management can be carried out by assistants through telephonic contact, more and more services are relying on technology tools to free up their hours. The outreach approach based on information technology tools is proving to be less intrusive for the clients as it opens up room for flexible engagement. The commonly used technology features include automated phone calls, web chats, emails, and text messages to maintain constant communication with patients and offer a more personalized experience.

An infographic listing the four steps in panel management. The four steps are identification of patient care gaps, patient assessment, deciding effective course of action, and conveying the information to the patient.

Text Messaging as a communication and marketing channel for panel management

Each communication channel for client relationship management comes with its pros and cons. However, texting has proved to be a highly logical choice due to its 98% open rate and over 20% click-through rate. An SMS sent out to the client has a higher response rate due to its accessibility. An estimated 5 billion people are using a mobile phone in today’s world, making text messaging perfect for faster client communication. 

Panel management with text messaging increases cost-effectiveness due to increased views. It also saves a lot of time as it provides ‘to the point’ information. Text message templates can be created to reach out to the client and even personalized SMSs can be sent out, depending on the client and requirement. Scheduling of text messages is another fruitful avenue. The panel management team doesn’t have to wait for the perfect timing for a message as they can simply schedule a text for a later time or date.

Key areas of client engagement through text messaging

A well-structured panel management process calls for recognition of areas of focus in regard to the client. Most outreach solutions can be easily implemented through text messaging. The key ones are discussed below.

  • Reminders

Maintaining a panel of clients requires evaluation of their respective statuses, after which a call to action is needed. This is shared as a reminder of appointments, deadlines, or meetings. A client can be sent a low-intensity reminder for an upcoming test or treatment procedure rather easily through an SMS. All the necessary information about the appointment, including purpose, timing, and location is relayed in the fastest way possible. Since reminders only include limited information, text messaging is the perfect channel for it. Sharing appointments through texts also ensures that the client gets the important information in time for the visit. The following components should be informed through a reminder SMS: 

– name of the client,

– name of business,

– date of appointment,

– time of appointment,

– purpose of appointment (mention of suggested test or treatment),

– location or contact person,

– and any other prerequisites.

  •  Queries
To attend to the client’s needs in a better way, it becomes imperative to share as much information with the client as possible. Such data can be sent to the client through a text message. If the message exceeds the limits of an SMS, a document listing FAQs or a website form can be shared as a link within the body of the text. Various URL shortening service websites can be used to condense the links of such online forms. Once the URL has been shortened, it can easily be sent through a text message to the client.

On the other hand, panel management may also include queries from the client’s end. Instead of subjecting the client to cumbersome web chats or missed calls, a dedicated query method through SMSs can be devised. Two-way text messaging enables the customers to address their queries in real-time.

  •  Educational Material

Text messaging is a great platform to share educational material with clients. Sending informative suggestions or links to educational documents, videos, or infographics through SMSs results in an impactful commitment. The client can refer to this material to get a better understanding of their requirements and forward these requirements to their service providers. Distribution of education material through text messaging is a pathway to influence the behavior of the clients by streamlining the material sent their way. The educational material can be personalized according to client needs as well. Since the response rate to SMSs is higher, the client has greater and improved access to information. For example, a healthcare practice can send dietary suggestions to a patient with a chronic disease like diabetes to help them manage their condition.

  •  Advertisements
Mobile text messaging is not only meant to be a channel for reminders, queries, and feedback. It can also serve as a beneficial advertising medium. Since this mode of communication has already been established as being cost-effective, text messaging has turned out to be a cheaper form of advertisement. One can promote a new service or product by sending an SMS straight to the clients in their panel. The advertising can also be customer-specific to achieve a better conversion ratio. The text messaging service can be used to advertise educational classes in addition to the education material discussed in the previous section.
An infographic showing the six key areas of communication including reminders, queries, educational material, advertisements, payments and feedback, for panel management via SMS.
  • Payments
Businesses can even keep a track of pending payments or receipt of payments by sending text messages to clients. It helps both the business practice and the customer to have a secondary record of payments due or paid. The SMS should include the link for the payment gateway to allow easy transactions. The amount pending or paid should be specifically mentioned in the text.
  • Feedback
A business heavily relies on customer feedback to improve its services. Instead of waiting for the customer to review services on-site, a text message allows sharing of feedback or survey form directly to the client’s mobile phone. This gives your panel of clients the liberty to choose when they want to provide feedback; however, higher click-through rates in the case of text messages convert into promptly answered surveys and feedback forms. A shortened URL for the survey or feedback document can be included in the body of the SMS. A business can even urge its customers to write reviews on Google or other ranking websites by sending prompts via a text message.

Execution

The first step in panel management with text messaging is to obtain the client’s consent to receive SMSs from your organization. A non-consensual delivery of text messages may end up irking the client. Thus, high levels of response can only be achieved by consensual and strategic communication. Determining and fixing the roles of outreach staff plays a significant role. The activities and responses of the clients have to be monitored closely, allowing the service provider to understand their response patterns. 

It is imperative to figure out what kind of text messages require a one-way or two-way channel. Further, the timing and frequency of the SMSs decide successful client engagement. Several AI software allow the service provider to execute panel management with apparent ease with the help of automated texts. There is a provision for bulk SMSs, two-way real-time text messaging systems, and scheduling options with different frequency rates, among others. The execution of client care should always focus on providing improved quality of services, building a better relationship between customers and service providers, and maximum reliance on AI tools to engage the customers.

Takeaway

Panel Management ensures comprehensive client satisfaction. To carry it out with utmost efficiency, the use of text messaging is largely suggested due to higher open and response rates. The limited capacity of text messages can be countered by the inclusion of shortened URLs, redirecting the client to more information. The use of automated SMSs relieves the burden on business staff and frees up hours to bring more clients on board. Bringing in AI to take such a proactive approach to client care is far more important during COVID-19. Owing to the widespread usage of mobile phones all over the world, automated text messages are the way to systemically grow your business.

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