DPC is all about connecting with patients, which ironically is prevented by the standard insurance model. All those rules and regulations are so tough to keep up with, and heaven forbid you break one of ’em. The fear itself can effectively prevent that connection which leads to a healthy doctor-patient relationship. Can’t text. Can’t Skype. Can’t Tweet. And when you feel like you’re basing a diagnosis on the ICD code instead of the other way around? Don’t even get us started. But we digress…
Thank goodness there’s a better way. Direct Care literally shoves all that craziness to the side and lets us focus on the patient. Listening to them. Talking to them. Connecting with them. However they want. We would do well to remember that Direct Care was built on the premise of transparent communication. But we would do even better to remember that not everyone communicates the same way. Your “older” generation thrives on phone calls and emails. But your millennials? They’re different. They text and tweet. Constantly. It’s concise. And fast. And that’s all they need. #micdrop
The AAFP wrote an article addressing some of this not too long ago. They had all kinds of great ideas on how to attract and engage this generation. The whole thing is over here, but let’s take a quick peek at the good stuff:
For physician practices to attract Millennial patients, they must develop an approach that encourages this audience to choose their practice over retail clinics, OTC prescriptions, and other community options. This may involve incorporating a few of the following tactics:
Improve your website: is your website mobile-friendly? Have you invested in SEO (search engine optimization)? Is your contact information and hours of operation easily accessible? These are just a few things to consider to help improve the look and feel of your site.
Embrace social media: it’s a fact that social media is a huge part of Millennials’ lives. If your practice has yet to adopt social media, now’s the time. That doesn’t mean you have to sign up for Snapchat or add GIFs to your website. It means establishing a social presence where patients can learn more about you, your staff and your practice.
Online appointment scheduling: consider adding a section on your website that allows patients to book appointments online. It’s fast, convenient and frees up your office’s telephone lines.
Flexible hours: since practices seem to be losing younger patients to minute clinics, it may behoove you to add additional hours of operation. Consider adding weekend hours or extended evening hours for those patients who may not have the flexibility to take off during the workweek.
Encourage feedback: sometimes the best way to learn what your patients want is to simply ask them. Encourage your patients to provide feedback via email, online reviews or by filling out a comment card. Remember, the feedback isn’t for your ego, it’s to help improve your practice and the patient experience.
Implement text notifications: Millennials spend a great deal of time on their smartphones, and texting is one of the most frequent activities they engage in. Allow these patients to opt-in for text notifications so they can conveniently receive appointment reminders, emergency messages, and other important notifications straight to their phone. You can also enable the same functions for email.
Try to develop patient relationships: if a Millennial is going to take the time to come into your office for a visit, they don’t want to feel like just another patient or a list of symptoms on a chart. They want to feel like a person, so it’s your duty to try to establish a meaningful doctor-patient relationship. This may require spending a few extra minutes getting to know them, looking them in their eyes during visits and not at a computer screen, and letting them know that their health is a team effort.
Dang. If we didn’t know any better, we’d say this was taken right out of the Direct Care playbook! Lucky for all you wise DPC docs out there, you’re set up to do each and every one of these things. The best part, though? You won’t have to jump through a single hoop to do them. Noooooo hoop jumping for you. So start texting!
We’re going to take it one giant step further. If you use Atlas.md not only can you communicate well via text, but you don’t have to lift a single finger to do it. There’s no extra charting if you want to send a text instead of an email. There’s no extra anything, actually. Atlas’ seamless integration of SMS correspondence lands those text message conversations right in your patient’s chart – automatically. Your patient has already consented to non-traditional methods of communications – Atlas lets you follow through with it!
So cheers to you and your good decisions. Cheers to being able to cut down your diatribe on the current state of healthcare to 140 characters. And cheers for doing whatever it takes to communicate with your patients on their terms – even if you have no idea what it means to be “on fleek.”