Patients contact practices on a regular basis for things like general inquiries, scheduling requests, and prescription refills. Everyone wants a quick response, and no one wants to be put on hold, wait in long lines, or get bounced around on calls just to get a hold of the right person to talk to.
In healthcare, where time equals money, your time and your patient's time is of the utmost importance. This is where online SMS chat comes in. Adopting SMS chat for your practice makes life easier for your patients and keeps your practice running more efficiently and productively.
Below are some reasons why you need to consider employing SMS chatbots or text chats for your practice.
What Is SMS Chat?
SMS Chat is a feature that practices can use to streamline patient-practice communication. It lets patients initiate a conversation with your practice right from your website and continue the conversation through text. This ensures that patients quickly reach the right staff member to address their needs without any unnecessary delays.
Curogram’s SMS Chat, known as Online Request, is a clickable website link with the welcome message, "Start a chat with us via SMS," letting patients know that initiates a conversation with the practice. This leads to a drop-down menu, from which patients can choose the topic they want to discuss with the practice. These topics can be any of the following:
- Appointment Scheduling
- Prescription Refills
- Medical Record Requests
- New Patient Inquiries
It also includes a text field for patients to detail their concerns or questions. After entering patients their first and last names and contact number and clicking the "Get Started!" button, patients are prompted to confirm their phone number by inputting a verification code sent by the system to their mobile device. After successful verification, patients receive a personalized message confirming that the practice has received their request.
In Curogram’s "Conversations Setting", your practice then receives a message containing the patient's name, a label that indicates the topic the person wants to discuss with the practice, and their specific inquiry. The message will also be tagged according to the patient's chosen topic.
This tag is handy as it filters conversations via topics in Curogram’s app. With Curogram, you can utilize Smart Routing, a feature that lets you send queries directly to a designated individual or a group of individuals to answer a particular topic. This is especially useful for large practices with large staffs. This way, new requests don't clog the front desk but go directly to the staff member who can best handle the patient's request.
7 Benefits of SMS Chat
Would SMS Chat add to your practice's performance? Here are 7 benefits to consider:
1. Easy Patient Online Access to SMS Texting
Typically, websites have a How to Reach Us webpage in their websites or feature a chatbot to address common inquiries. However, these options can be less than ideal for patients. Many times patients don’t continue due to long wait times, because the bot doesn’t have the ability to address their concerns, or because patients become lost in a sea of website tabs and windows.
This is where SMS chat offers a significant advantage. By enabling patients to communicate with your practice directly from their phones, SMS chat eliminates the need for them to stay connected to your website. Once patients submit their inquiry, they can carry on with their day, confident that your practice will reach out to them via SMS.
If your practice wants to offer you patients direct access to Curograms’s new Online Request feature, the process is easy. After signing up for this feature with Curogram, include a clickable link on your website that leads to the standalone request page. Alternatively, your web development team can seamlessly integrate this page into your existing website for a more integrated user experience.
2. Quick Verification
Healthcare practices can dramatically speed up patient interaction with online SMS chat. This modern approach bypasses the conventional, time-consuming verification process, where patients are required to verbally provide sensitive details such as their full name and date of birth.
Instead, an online SMS chat expedites verification by confirming that the request originates from the patient's phone number. This is achieved by sending a verification code directly to their mobile device. This method not only speeds up the verification process but also maintains the security and confidentiality of patient information.
3. Speedy Routing
For larger clinics with high query volumes, call centers are often segmented into specialized departments. Typically, calls are fielded by general representatives responsible for verifying existing patient details or gathering information from potential new patients. After collecting initial data, the call may be redirected to specialized agents based on the patient's needs.
Traditional chatbots pose other challenges. Chatbots serve as patients' initial point of contact, designed to gather personal information and provide relevant information or solutions to address their queries. Engaging with a live agent is typically reserved as a final measure when the chatbot has exhausted all programmed avenues for assistance.
Traditional methods and chatbot interactions are complicated and time-consuming — and very annoying for most patients.
Online SMS chat simplifies the routing process. Instead of making patients wait in phone queues, placing them on hold, or making them navigate complicated phone trees, SMS chats allow patients to specify the purpose of their communication from the beginning. From there, the system instantly connects patients with the appropriate point of contact within your practice, bypassing an unneeded conversation with a general rep and letting patients enjoy a quick and personal two-way communication with your practice.
4. Productivity Gains
Integrating SMS chat into your practice's communication strategy can increase productivity. Not only does it let patients reach you faster, but it also quickly and smartly routes patients' messages to the right place so they get their answers fast. This lets you handle and resolve more patient concerns and inquiries, but also removes the burden of high call volume, freeing up your staff to concentrate on other tasks. In fact, practices using Curogram's 2-way texting report up to a 50% drop in phone calls after just 60 days of implementation.
Since most patients' concerns are predictable, you can use quick-response templates, pre-written messages you can select to respond to commonly asked questions or concerns. Since these templates can be personalized by the automatic insertion of the patient’s first name, for example, using these templates saves you the need to type your response while keeping the message friendly and directed to your patient - important for patient engagement and satisfaction.
Dedicated Groups for Reps
Curogram also has an advanced feature that lets you create filter sets to break up your reps into groups, streamlining responses for inquiries such as billing or prescription refills. For example, if your practice is spread across multiple locations, you can assign a dedicated representative to manage inquiries for each site. Alternatively, you can segment your team based on the following operational areas:
- Appointment Scheduling
- Prescription Refill
- Medical Record Request
- New Patient Inquiry
This segmentation lets your Billing specialist or specialists, for example, focus on their areas of expertise so that needs can be addressed more efficiently, providing more proficient and focused patient care management.
5. Real-Time Chat With an Agent
Nothing is worse than getting stuck in a conversation with an automated chatbot. Employing text chats for your practice assures your patients that they're engaging with a real person capable of understanding and responding accurately.
However, a common concern among teams is the possibility of compromising the team's work-life balance, being at the beck and call of patients. On the contrary, you can set work hours for your online chat system. Doing so means that your patients receive the help they need without delay during operational hours, while those who reach out beyond work hours will receive an after-hours message that can be customized to maintain engagement.
6. Asynchronous Support
SMS chats also offer asynchronous support by allowing patients to communicate with your practice on their terms and timelines. SMS chat support happens on your patients' phones, giving them the liberty to send and respond to a message at any time without the need to drop whatever they're doing, an important function while individuals maintain busy work and home lives. Similarly, your staff has active control over their workflow and responds when it is most convenient.
7. Simplified Record-keeping and Documentation
SMS chat not only streamlines communication but also centralizes record-keeping. All the patient's exchanges with you are saved and recorded in a single platform, offering a transparent communication trail between patient and practice.
Optimize Patient Engagement Through SMS Chat Solutions
Facilitating a straightforward and accessible communication channel via SMS chat is essential for cultivating your practice's relationship with existing patients while facilitating a wider reach to prospective patients. This not only streamlines interactions but also positions your practice as a preferred choice for individuals seeking quality healthcare services.
Want to learn more about the benefits of Online Request and other Curogram features? Schedule a demo today!