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How to Improve Patient-Provider Communication During the Pre-Appointment Stage

Patient Imaging Journey Pre-Appointment Stage

Why effective communication early in the patient imaging journey is key to improving appointment adherence, patient experience and provider revenue.

The medical imaging journey, an anxiety-inducing experience for patients, presents unique challenges for providers. Finding effective ways to communicate during the 3 stages of this journey—pre-appointment, appointment and post-appointment—is integral to increasing appointment adherence, decreasing distress and producing positive patient experiences.

During the pre-appointment stage, research shows that 48% of patients are already feeling elevated levels of anxiety. If these feelings remain unaddressed, they can have a profound impact on the entire care journey by prompting patients to delay, cancel or reschedule their imaging appointments. In addition to the financial toll this takes on overburdened healthcare systems, missed appointments can lead to delayed diagnoses that pose serious health risks to patients and liability concerns for providers.

The 4 steps of the pre-appointment stage

The pre-appointment stage begins as soon as patients experience unsettling new symptoms. It carries over into their doctor’s office, where they receive a requisition and referral for imaging, and continues up to (and beyond) the scheduling of the appointment itself. It is during this initial stage of the medical journey that effective communication can make the difference between a patient attending an important imaging appointment or deciding to skip the stressful situation altogether.

Steps in Patient Imaging Journey Pre-Appointment Stage

3 strategies to more effectively communicate during the pre-appointment stage

An effective way to help patients arrive on time for an imaging appointment is to provide them with all the information they need in advance of their procedure. Here are 3 strategies to try:

  1. The use of automated appointment reminders, delivered by voice, text or email, has been found to decrease the rate of no-shows by over 30%, ensuring that more patients get the timely medical attention they need.
  2. When modality instructions are incorporated into these reminders, patients are more likely to arrive in the appropriate state for their appointment, reducing the need to reschedule for a later date.
  3. The inclusion of other key information, such as frequently asked questions, directions and parking instructions, all increase the likelihood that patients arrive prepared and have a positive experience during what can be a stressful day for many patients.

For more strategies to help increase appointment adherence and improve patient experience, download Enhancing Patient Engagement: A Guide to Effective Communication Throughout the Patient Imaging Journey.

How patients and providers benefit from improved communication

Effectively communicating with patients through the use of automatic appointment reminders has a direct impact on a provider’s bottom line, with a 2017 study pointing to savings of $200 USD for every no-show that can be avoided. When you consider that 3% of nearly 3 million patients missed an appointment over the course of this 16-year study, the potential savings are significant.

By improving appointment adherence, healthcare providers are able to optimize their schedules and resources to decrease the amount of time all patients spend in the waiting room. Narrowing the number of no-shows can also have a profound effect on patient health because a delayed diagnosis can result in more extensive—and expensive—treatments at a later date.

How PocketHealth can support appointment adherence

To better engage patients and reduce the frequency of no-shows, PocketHealth Appointment Reminders provide customized, automated reminder emails and text messages. These reminders inform patients of any modality-prep, directions and parking instructions, so they have the required information to arrive on time and ready for their imaging appointment.

After the radiologist has reviewed the imaging and provided a report, PocketHealth enables patients to quickly access, understand, share and store their imaging records—all without clerical involvement from the provider.

A remedy for reluctant patients

Effective communication is the key to mitigating much of the anxiety patients feel during the pre-appointment stage of their medical imaging journey. By using patient-driven solutions, such as PocketHealth’s automated Appointment Reminders, providers can help enhance the patient experience while optimizing their own operational efficiency.

In addition to saving the healthcare provider time and money for every appointment that doesn’t need to be rescheduled, communicating more effectively with patients can help improve quality of care while lightening the load on the entire healthcare system.

For more tips on how to better communicate with patients during all stages of their imaging journey, download Enhancing Patient Engagement: A Guide to Effective Communication Throughout the Patient Imaging Journey.

About PocketHealth

PocketHealth is the first patient-centric image sharing platform, empowering patients with fast access, easy sharing and permanent, secure storage of their medical imaging and reports. By eliminating any network image-sharing dependencies, PocketHealth seamlessly integrates into healthcare systems and creates efficiencies and cost savings for providers while putting patients in control of their healthcare journey. PocketHealth is trusted by over 600 hospitals and imaging centers across North America and is used by more than 1.5 million patients. Request a demo today.

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