patient engagement

5 Ways to Use Direct Messaging to Engage Patients

The reality of a busy practice is that time constraints often mean limited availability to connect with families on topics like your website, your new services, and your plans for the future. Direct messaging is your answer – with online messaging services you can connect to patients on almost everything pediatrics, from services to prices, clinic hours to staffing changes, and celebratory news to urgent updates.

Get Connected with Direct Messages

Direct secure messages and related terms, like PCC’s Broadcast Messages and patient portal messages, are tools for healthcare providers seeking a secure and direct way to interact with their patients online. As more families seek answers to their healthcare questions online, pediatric practices who can offer answers on a safe platform have a great opportunity to provide the specific reassurance and trusted information only a trusted healthcare partner can provide.

Information your office can’t provide promptly to worried families might lead caregivers to seek out answers elsewhere from less dependable sources. In addition, pediatricians are excellent at connecting with families as physicians. Still, it can be hard to know how to ask the kinds of business-like questions you might be wondering as a physician-owner or office manager.

Luckily, direct messages are the tool for all of these challenges and more. Here are 5 ways to use direct secure messaging in your practice to save time, money, and connect with patients more closely than ever.

Patient Recall

A robust patient recall program is excellent for closing gaps in patient care, and there are many ways to tackle the process. One great way is by reaching out to families and caregivers directly via your patient portal or messaging program. Just a few ways to use direct messages for recall:

  • Send day of appointment reminders
  • Send missing vaccine reminders once a quarter
  • Send missed appointment notifications with your practice’s missed appointment policy
  • Send specific patient populations reminders for controlled substance visits, behavioral health check ups, and more

A good messaging tool will make it easy to send the right message to the right patients to get your message across. PCC’s Broadcast Messaging lets you compile patient lists in a snap.

Patient Engagement: Campaigns & Events

A pediatric practice is almost always bustling with activity, so let your families know what activities and campaigns are happening so they know to book an appointment or visit for a special event. It’s important to advertise both clinical events and how your practice connects with the community outside of business hours.

Events that get families in the door can also help them engage with your practice and develop helpful relationships with your practice and other families. Direct messages can remind busy parents to book a quick flu clinic visit, finally take that toddler sleep class, or simply join in a weekly video chat with their friendly neighborhood pediatrician. 

Don’t forget to have some fun! Sponsoring a walk for disease or the local softball team? Let everyone know how to support the causes or activities you care about, and connect with your community at the same time. Whatever you have going on, direct messages can help get families excited and in the door.

Alerts & News

Sometimes you need to get important information out quickly. Inclement weather, changes to office hours, or new recalls or shortages should go out as soon as your office obtains reliable information. For example, you might share information about a baby formula shortage and a link to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ patient education sheet.

Whether through text or email, secure messaging services can get urgent or otherwise important information to families instantly. Office news can also be fun: you can choose to share new staff members, new service hours, or drive-thru flu information via a weekly or monthly newsletter with direct messaging.

Reduce Phone Call Overload with Templates

A little proactive planning can save staff from superfluous phone calls. Whether you expect lots of questions ahead of the next sports physical season or you need to reduce a sudden increase in calls, save time and energy by constructing a set of message templates. You might include templates for:

  • Changes to office hours/holiday hours
  • Flu or vaccine clinic announcements
  • Parking or office construction info (E.g. “During construction, please park here, turn left at the sidewalk, and come through the door with the green sign. Thanks!”)
  • Sports physical appointment announcements

You can also use templates for patient portal direct messages. These templates are useful for nurses or other staff responding to patient portal requests or commonly-asked questions. These might be:

  • Reminders to use online payments/book an appointment
  • Requests to call the office for more information
  • Thanking patients for completing forms or sending files

A template for these kinds of messages can save an office manager’s time when the practice is busy, and save front desk staff time to better assist patients. It’s worth reminding patients that the patient portal isn’t a substitute for care from their pediatrician, and to reach out if they need assistance, and to call 911 for medical emergencies.

Secure PHI with Private Messages

When sending PHI (ePHI) via the patient portal, direct messages are an invaluable practice management and clinical tool. The benefit of this tool is that the pediatrician can exchange useful information with patients that in prior years would have required an additional office visit. 

Parents can use the patient portal’s messages to send secure files and forms, reducing mailing costs and making forms more efficient. They can also send photos and questions for minor injuries and ills that might not require a visit – but be sure to bill for telehealth if the occasion calls for it!

PCC users that also use CHADIS can even send questionnaires directly via the patient portal, reducing paper load and making clinical screenings an even easier process.

Connecting with patients no longer has to be only through mailing lists or annual well visits – you can connect any time, with any family. Patient engagement increases satisfaction, improves healthcare outcomes, and promotes the trusting relationships so important to effective pediatric care. 

Are you ready to start really connecting with your community and getting the word out about the awesome things your practice is up to? Be sure to take advantage of our ebook, How to Market Your Pediatric Practice, to find out more about how connecting with families can help grow your practice online and off.

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Allie Squires

Allie Squires is PCC's Marketing Content Writer and editor of The Independent Pediatrician. She holds a master's in Professional Writing from NYU.