Introducing the Patient Pager System for Hospitals, Clinics and Practices

Doctor Pager and Hospital Pager Systems have been key drivers in the development of a new patient pager systems that uses cell phones. Combining hospital pager technology with the ubiquitous cell phone, the days of crowded waiting rooms and disgruntled patients are over, thanks to the Patient Cell Phone Pager System.

Genesis Hospital Pager Systems

Hospital and doctor pager systems established the wide area wireless network technology well before the modern mobile phone. One very important reason for doctor pager systems and hospital pager systems is the urgent need to communicate instantly to save a patient’s life. Prior to wireless voice communications (i.e. mobile phones), the beeper pager using SMS (short message service) was the technology of choice. Small data packets broadcast wirelessly to a physician was a feat of “modern” wireless technology but also very expensive. The SMS beeper technology set the foundation for today’s powerful and affordable patient pagers that simply use the patient’s phone to alert them.

No Phone, No Problem

The modern patient pagers that uses the patient’s mobile phone to send alerts should also include a web hosted user interface that registration staff, for instance, can easily input the patient’s name and phone number into a virtual waiting line or queue. This simple, but yet effective web interface assures optimal wait list management. The preferred patient pager systems I am referring to actually track the average wait time, offer a digital display interface so older patients or family members who don’t use a cell phone can monitor their place in line on an LCD display. Other important features include interactive queue management, where the patient / family can monitor their status in the line / queue by simply texting reply commands i.e. text “S” for your status in line.

Health Care and Hospital Pagers Evolve

Health care pager systems include physician pagers, hospital pagers and now patient pagers. Patient pager systems are growing more popular with patients and families as well as health care providers seeking innovative ways to increase patient satisfaction. The immerse demand on today’s health care system has resulted in crowded waiting rooms, long waits for urgent care or emergency room services. Furthermore, we all know “waiting” in a waiting room can be hazardous to your health. The bottom line, all these factors negatively influence a patient satisfaction score.

Common Uses for Patient Pagers

  1. Protect privacy/ compliance with HIPAA by reducing or eliminating over head paging.
  2. Free up patients and families from crowded wait rooms.
  3. Increase appointment times and reduce no shows with text reminders
  4. Allow patients or families to wander, visit cafeteria/restaurant or gift shop or enjoy the campus.
  5. Send private text instructions to patients to direct them to a destination or call a number.

Infection Control

A 2010 investigative report by CBS News in Philadelphia study found 7 out 9 coaster pagers randomly tested from restaurants in Philadelphia tested positive for Staph bacteria. An unnecessary infection control exposure at a time CMS is linking reimbursement to infection rates and readmission. Bottom line sharing coaster pagers with patients, families and staff is an unacceptable infection control risk. So what’s the solution?

Advantages of Patient Cell Phone Pagers

The ubiquitous mobile phone is the solution. Think about it, everyone is texting. These modern pagers system are referred to as Cell Phone Pagers or Hospital Text Pagers. These pager systems are highly effective for a couple reasons:

  1. 8.5 out 10 American’s have a cell phone
  2. 97% of all text messages are ready and 87% or read instantly
  3. Appointment reminders / reduce no shows
  4. Mobile phones are typically not shared thus they don’t pass contagion
  5. No replacement costs if they walk out the door or break
  6. No expensive transmitters or non-standard equipment to calibrate
  7. Set up and training requires minimal money and time

In all fairness, there is little we can do about the demand for services and the shortage of physicians but by deploying the new patient pager system we can give the patient or family the freedom to choose where they want to wait. Patient choice is very important to patient satisfaction whether it’s choosing the right doctor or choosing where you wait can change a patient’s perception and increase their sense satisfaction. The investment is minimal but the returns are great.

7 Patient-Centered Pearls to “Wow” New Patients (Part III of III)

In Part I of this three-part series, you learned the first two ingredients- Patient/Parent Aggravation Were Non-Existent and Empty Promises Are Never Made. In Part II you learned, three more ingredients to WOW New Patients -You Must Manage the New Patient’s Experience, Involve the New Patient and Have Fun!

In this final and third article, you will learn key ingredients six and seven of the 7 Patient-Centered Pearls to Wow New Patients. There’s no black magic to sprinkle or spells to cast. You and your team must have a desire to keep the best interest of the patient first and foremost in your minds even when handling scheduling conflicts. Please read on.

#6- Recover Readily and Remarkably

I’ve read, to err is human but to really foul things up, you need a computer. I am sure it seems that way at times, especially with scheduling. You must be reminded a human is the one operating the computer. What goes in it was put in it by a team member.

Here’s a scenario for an orthodontic practice to consider:

A new patient arrives for a consultation on the wrong day. What is standard operating practice for your office? Do you tell them you are sorry “but they will have to come back on the appropriate day and time?” Do you say “you are already booked and cannot work them in?” If your goal is to “Wow” your new patients 100% of the time, your team should make every effort to see the new patient while they are in your office, regardless of who made the error. Yes, you have an exam in progress and the operatory is busy but the bottom line should be to do this exam today. I remind you, the patient typically wants to know three things: type of braces, how long it’ll take and how much it’ll cost. That process could be handled in 15-20 minutes or less and the exam can be performed in the operatory with a chair side assistant.

SOLUTION: When taking care of patients, admit the error and apologize; then make it right. A patient-centered orthodontic or dental practice would do that immediately. Don’t try to cover up a mistake or worse yet, blame the patient. Patients are very much aware of what is happening around them. Be sincere. The patient will respect you more for making every effort to improve their experiences with you. As soon as they discovered there was an error, they expected to be told they could not be seen and sent away. Wow them and do the exam anyway!

#7-Do Everything Better

In the scenario above, what do you think your #1 competitor would have done? Look at what other orthodontic practices are doing. Look at any business that services customers, what are they doing? You will see exceptional customer service or a lack of service. Most often, a lack of good customer service is seen everywhere.

SOLUTION: Observe, learn and take notes. Capture the good ideas and discard the bad ones from other service-oriented businesses. Think about how your team answers the telephone. Pay attention to how patient information is asked for and entered in your computer system. Take note of how new patient packets are processed and mailed. Learn what can be done better or made more efficient. How can the patient be made to feel your practice is the best practice in town?

When you combine all seven of these key ingredients, you will have built a patient-centered practice and knocked the wind out of your competition’s sails. Your competition started on this path but stopped as abruptly as they started. You and your team must make a daily commitment to lavishly apply these ingredients to your day. You will “Wow” your patients and they will “wow” you in return with referrals. Take exceptional care of your patients and no one else will. They will remain loyal to you.

© 2007 Avis Ward of AWard Consulting, LLC

Are You Welcoming Your New Clients?

First impressions count, as the saying goes. It’s true on the first date, or when a student is to be interviewed by a college and it certainly is true in our profession for Holistic Practitioners.

One of the first steps to ensure this loyal fan base is by making sure to welcome them from your first point of contact.

Having an eye for the small details that make a big difference and positive impression. Don’t worry you don’t have to roll out the red carpet, this isn’t about being showy or pretentious but rather keeping an eye on the small touches that make a difference when a new patient or clients begins to work with us.

Its these small touches that have people feel wow,” so-and-so really knows what he or she is doing, I really feel in good hands.”

Here are some ideas that you can implement to make a new clients feel welcomed and affirm that they’ve made the right decision in choosing to work with you.

Being personable via e-mail

Potential clients will often e-mail me since I have a strong online presence and ask about sessions.
I usually greet them warmly in one sentence, “Priscilla, thank you for requesting information to work with me..” OR “Priscilla, nice to meet you! I’m happy to see how I can assist you…” and of course I tell them the next steps to working with me. I’m brief, but cordial and warm.

Your first verbal contact

When you have a new client on the phone for the first time. Be cordial, warm but of course always be the leader. Start by telling them you’ve been looking forward to connecting with them or ask them how they got to know about you.

A welcome packet

Don’t be daunted by the word ‘packet.’ This doesn’t have to be loads of paperwork or a binder of information. This could simply be one or two sheets of paper giving them tips of how to get the most out of your sessions. It could be a page of FAQ’s from new clients. You can give them a magnetic business card to put on the refrigerator.

Your office

If you have a physical office for you meet your clients I highly encourage you every once in a while to sit down in the waiting room and take a look around. Are their cobwebs in the corners? Is the waiting room inviting and warm? Would the atmosphere enhanced by some soft music? It’s important that the space is inviting as well as clean and orderly.

Your staff

Remember your staff is an extension of you. How does your staff greet your clients? Are they helpful and warm when the patient asked questions? Did he look refreshed, energetic and eager to help? If not have a conversation with your staff about the importance of making each new patient and returning client feel welcomed.

Just like putting out a welcome mat on a front door, putting in place these small signs of welcome are subtle yet powerful ways to create loyal, satisfied fans for you and your Practice. Try them and see the results yourself!

Don’t Panic – Starting Hemodialysis

Your doctor just said your kidneys are failing and that you are going to need hemodialysis. You are told you have Chronic Kidney Disease or End Stage Renal Disease. A million questions and worries are racing through your mind. You are angry and sad and overwhelmed. Nobody seems to be listening to your concerns. Everyone assumes that of course you will want to participate in this life sustaining treatment. Stop. Take a breath. Take time to learn about the process and your choices.

You are starting a journey. Take a moment and let yourself feel all the emotions you are experiencing. It is ok to be overwhelmed. Get support from family and friends. Start to learn about kidney disease and the process of dialysis.

Initially, you will be bombarded with information. You will hear words like “nephrologist”, “fistula”,” creatinine”, “clearances”,” phosphorus”,” kt/v”, among many others. As a dialysis social worker, I tell people that they shouldn’t expect to remember all the information thrown at them when they start the process. It seems as if the first 6 months can be very much a blur. Eventually you will learn all the terms and what they mean. Often your center will give you a welcome packet or other written material. At the onset of dialysis you are provided with so much information that you be overwhelmed. Instead of tossing the written information in the back seat of your car or in the wastebasket, it may be helpful to save the information and you will have it readily available later on when you have questions or want to refresh your knowledge.

Do you remember the Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance)? It is likely that you will go through similar stages after learning about needing to be on dialysis. Dialysis is phenomenal in that it gives you a chance to live where otherwise you may not have the opportunity. However, you still will be giving up some independence and there will be necessary lifestyle changes. Give yourself time to grieve and incorporate dialysis into your life.

Try not to be intimidated by the professionals involved with your care – ask questions and express your concerns. Talk to your doctors. Talk to your family and friends. Talk to your social worker, nurses, techs and dietitians. It is vitally important that you look out for yourself and meet your health needs.

A few things for you to keep in mind while starting your journey.

· You may not feel better right away. Dialysis will clean the toxins out of your blood and take off some of the excess fluid in your body. There may be some relief very quickly but you may not feel like a new person overnight. Give it a little time and you will likely feel better.

· There are different home dialysis options including home hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. If this may be of interest to you, ask your doctor to provide you information and assess if home dialysis is an appropriate modality for you.

· You will probably feel very tired as you get used to dialysis. You might hear that all you are doing is spending 3 or 4 hours in a chair. Family and friends might indicate that all you are doing is sitting and resting so you shouldn’t be tired. Remember, your body is working the entire time you are in treatment. For some people they become less exhausted as their body adjusts to treatment and some continue to struggle with exhaustion on dialysis days.

· If you are of working age it may be tempting to continue time off work. Carefully consider trying to keep working at least part time if you are able. Individuals on dialysis may feel better, have less depression and will probably have more financial freedom when they are employed.

· Dialysis is costly. If you have a work history and have been paying into social security it is likely you will qualify for Renal Medicare. Even if you have group insurance coverage it is probably beneficial to you to also obtain Medicare Part B which helps pay for outpatient medical services. Talk to your dialysis social worker about any and all financial assistance you may qualify for.

· If you are starting dialysis and already have a fistula as your dialysis port, be aware there are prescription numbing creams to minimize pain when the health professional is inserting a needle.

· There is generally never more than a soda can size amount of blood outside of your body at any given time.

· If you are considering a transplant you will want to make connecting with a transplant center a priority.

· Learn about and complete advanced directives (health care power of attorney). Often individuals balk at this step but get the information. Consider that if you are unable to speak for yourself that you will have wanted to take the steps to make sure that you have chosen who speaks for you.

· You can still travel. Do you want to visit your grandkids or go on that dream trip to Hawaii? Most of your travel plans are still possible. Except in real emergencies you may not be able to get up and go at the last minute on a cross country trek but there are dialysis centers everywhere and with a little planning they are available for you.

· You have the choice to not start or to discontinue dialysis. This is your life. An individual may choose to discontinue dialysis for a myriad of reasons. If your doctor is recommending dialysis and you are a new patient, I would advise that you at least try dialysis. Give it 30 or so days and see how you feel. You might see that you are able to adjust better than you imagine and you may feel a lot better. If you are thinking about discontinuing dialysis please talk with the professionals and your support system. Your center’s social worker will want to complete a depression screening to see if there are other interventions that may be available to you and improve your positive feelings. If you decide to discontinue treatment it may be beneficial to get hospice or other services involved to help you and your family and friends through the transition and the dying process.

Above are just a few thoughts on dialysis. Ultimately it is your life and it is imperative you speak up and gather all the information you can in order to make good decisions for yourself. Dialysis can be draining and frustrating but it also gives you the opportunity to live a very full and active life. It takes time but dialysis can become just another part of a fulfilling life.

7 Patient-Centered Pearls to “Wow” New Patients (Part I of III)

Are you and your team searching for that “magic formula” to increase Case Acceptance? Many orthodontic and dental practices are searching for ways to improve patient enrollment. Actually, winning patients over and improving your conversion rate is much easier than you may think. Consistently practicing to a higher standard and becoming a “patient-centered” practice should not be magic but is not widespread in dentistry or medicine. The results you will attain by doing what it takes to “Wow” your new patients will yield magical results, however. How do you “wow” your new patients and what are you doing to become “patient-centered?”

Remember if we know what to do and do not do it, we are depriving others of our very best. It’s not always what you do for your patients, in as much as what you don’t do. Your focus should be on providing the best in patient care, making starting treatment in your office easy and a unique experience.

Below are two of the seven key ingredients a “patient-centered” orthodontic or dental practices have in common.

#1 — Patient/Parent Aggravations Are Non-Existent Think about the last time you called or went to a doctor’s appointment. Were you aggravated by something in particular? Is there something you would change about the experience?

· Voicemail or a recording when you really would have preferred to speak with someone.

· A more convenient appointment time.

· Left knowing what my treatment would actually cost.

· After arriving on time, seeing the doctor when scheduled without having to wait and completing my visit within the time stated.

A patient-centered practice will anticipate the needs of their patients and eliminate aggravations.

Solution: Schedule a team meeting and list issues you have heard from your patients/parents or those they have experienced in your office. Come up with solutions for each issue. Role-play with your team members and practice, practice, practice. Make sure every team member knows how to handle each situation with a friendly smile. Uniformity is key!

#2 — Empty Promises Are Never Made Do not make promises to anyone you are unable to keep. Your patient’s expectations are managed by what is said to them on the phone, in your literature and in the information found on your website. What promises are being made? Are they being kept 100% of the time? If not, you are not meeting and exceeding the expectations of a patient-centered practice. In your practice, establish any broken promise as an unacceptable act. It is simply best not to say, verbally or in print, what you will not deliver.

Promise The appointment coordinator tells the patient/parent a new patient packet will be mailed to them along with instructions on what is needed before the visit.

Unacceptable Act! The packet never arrives or it shows up after the scheduled appointment.

Promise The patient/parent is told the General Dentist office will be called for a panoramic x-ray prior to the visit. The patient/parent offered to make the call but was assured your office would take care of it.

Unacceptable Act! The patient arrives for the consultation and the appointment coordinator or treatment coordinator forgot to call the dentist’s office for the x-ray.

Promise The appointment coordinator or treatment coordinator knows beforehand the consultation will be for a transfer case. The pertinent information is received on the previous orthodontist so that a request of the patient’s records can be made. You assure the patient/parent the records will be in your office the day of the consult.

Unacceptable Act! The request for transfer records was never made or it was made too late and the records aren’t available to the doctor on the day of the patient’s consultation.

Promise You offer 2 free movie tickets if the patient is kept waiting more than 20 minutes into their appointment time. Or, all of your printed material states “how valuable the patient/parent’s time is” so you “strive to be on time for every appointment.”

Unacceptable Act! Your team will rush to get the patient in any chair to avoid giving away movie tickets. Or you keep the patient waiting after they arrive on time.

Solution: Don’t make promises you have no intentions of keeping. This includes verbal or written promises. Be a practice of integrity and keep your word. Hold yourself and your team accountable. Lead by example. If you’re breaking promises to them, they’ll break promises to your patients.

Key ingredients 3, 4 and 5 will be published in the very near future. If you are unable to wait, send an email request and I will be happy to share the remaining ingredients with you, in advance. Begin “wowing” your new patients straightaway! And please, do not limit this exhilarating feeling to your new patients! Once they are enrolled in treatment, it takes the same care to keep them. They will increase your new patient flow with more referrals if they are made to feel special. A patient-centered practice creates Practice Ambassadors!

Copyright © 2007 Avis Ward of AWard Consulting, LLC