Beyond Appointment Reminders: Why Patient Communication Is Personal
When you own a wellness/medical practice, whether you are in the field of dentistry, chiropractic, or another healthcare field, you know the importance of “bedside manner.” How you communicate with your patients has a profound impact on their experience with the care you provide. We’ve all heard the horror stories of important news delivered in the worst possible way—and very likely you’ve thought, That isn’t me. I would never make a communication mistake like that. But did you ever think about the fact that a patient’s experience with your practice extends far beyond the moment they are sitting in front of you…and that all patient communication will impact how a patient receives your care?
Less than 10 years ago, a man with a 3-year-old son was asked by his wife to take his son to the dentist for the first time. Two days before the appointment, the man received a text reminder that the appointment was coming up. The man found the text reminder incredibly convenient—it was winter where he lived in the Chicago area, and snow was on the way. He had just at that moment been wondering what happens if snow hits. He replied to the text asking, “I should be able to make it, but what happens if we get a foot of snow?” He didn’t get a response, and he was lucky enough that the snow missed the area that weekend.
He bundled his 3-year-old up in winter gear for the cold weather—coats, boots, gloves, hat (a challenge in itself!) and headed to the appointment. His son was excited for his first ever appointment (ah, the naivety!), and they walked into the office. The woman at the front desk looked in her system and said, “You don’t have an appointment today.”
The son was devastated that his teeth-cleaning dreams would have to be fulfilled another day. The man was frustrated and confused. “I received a text reminder…” he said.
“It must have been a technical glitch,” she said. He bundled his disappointed son up and headed out into the cold. As he walked out, he thought, This isn’t a technical issue. This is a personal issue. It is personal to me. The man did not return to that dentist.
He did, however, see an opportunity. The man was Steve Weber, who at the time had built a mobile communications platform that delivered mobile solutions to retailers and restaurants. He took the experience and saw an opportunity to help doctors better communicate. He went to his engineering team and asked for a communications solution for doctors and practices based on their industry-leading platform. That solution became Zingit Solutions.
He asked his local chiropractor to try the beta. After two months of using it, she said, “The staff loves it, the practice loves it, and the patients love it.” Fast forward 8 years later, and Zingit has thousands of chiropractic, dental, and other practices using this system in the US and Canada.
What are a few key features that Zingit offers that the “technical glitch” appointment reminder above didn’t?
- Appointment communication connected to practice management software. Zingit ties into your existing practice management software to communicate with patients accurately, based on their appointment time. As such, it’s accurate and will not “glitch” or misfire—which would have saved Steve the bundling up in the first place.
- Additional helpful information. Zingit not only sends reminders, but it can send important updates and information to patients to ease their path to your office, like directions, instructions on prepping for the appointment, and reminders of what to bring. It can even send video that introduces patients to your staff or doctor, so they already have rapport before even entering the building.
- 2-way communication. If the dental practice above used Zingit, when Steve wrote about the snowstorm, the staff could have replied immediately. Zingit doesn’t just send a reminder and hope it sticks—it allows patients to reply, and your staff can see the reply and immediately communicate back. In the above example, they could have told him snowstorm plans (or that the appointment wasn’t even on the schedule to begin with).
- Review requests. Zingit doesn’t just stop communicating after it gets a patient into your practice. It asks for a star-rating at a scheduled time after the appointment takes place. This can help you build your online reputation, as you can encourage positive reviewers to share their review elsewhere. It can also help you preempt negative reviews. Learn more about how Zingit helps you manage your online reputation.
- All of these features (and more!) will take your communication beyond appointment reminders and into a level of patient engagement that will have lasting effects for your practice. Patients can have an amazing experience with you before they even walk in your door. Excellent patient communication expands far beyond bedside manner, and beyond appointment reminders—let Zingit help you engage your patients’ entire experience with your practice.