When it comes to the world of health care, nothing is more important than healthy engagement with patients. The days of regimented appointments and simply directing patients to the next point of contact are over. Instead, the hot button for the near future focuses on how the health care industry, including medical billers, can do a better job of engaging patients. Patient engagement is necessary to improve outcomes, which includes a reduction of costs for physicians and hospitals, as well as for spreading positive word-of-mouth referrals that can lead to repeat business. This is where social media can help. Start your medical billing training today from an accredited school.
Many health care providers are fast learning that social media is a good way to engage patients in the virtual world. Without having to leave the office, doctors and their staff can communicate practice news, interests and other information via a Facebook page. Here, patients can check-in to see what is going on in the practice and communicate with the physician and staff. For fast-moving messages that are time-sensitive, social media platforms such as Twitter can meet this need and refer followers to your Web site or Facebook page for an update. Ideally, social media strategy should address what is happening in your community to help patients stay in touch.
For the medical biller, social media can become a way to share with patients so that they stay informed about practice billing procedures and processes. Short posts and links to blog articles that outline your practice’s billing procedures can help patients stay current with medical bills and anticipate any changes that need to be made. You can also provide information that directs patients to the practice web site or to call you with their billing questions. By considering what may be impacting the patient and engaging them with information, news and helpful tips, you become a social listener and trusted health care ally.
Pay attention to what patients are saying online. Listen to what topics they are discussing and become a resource for them. To start listening, consider following these three steps:
Keep tabs on hot topics: Track topics that are of interest to you and patients. As a medical biller, you can watch out for information that can impact the billing process, such as the ICD-10 transition, the coming annual tax deadline and providing tips on how to manage this and medical bills at the same time, or how medical bills can help with taxes. If you find articles of interest, repost them onto your social media platforms.
Find local movers and shakers: Who’s who in your community? In a large city such as Los Angeles, it may take time to determine key influencers, whereas in a small town it could take less than a day to identify and connect with them. These influencers do not have to be within the health care field; as long they are relevant in the patient’s life there will be interest. Additionally, you may try commenting and engaging the influencer to further increase your own exposure. Relationship building is a big part of listening.
Connect with others: This does not mean you link to competition or use their information as a repost. Instead, connecting with others is intended to increase the benefit and interest of your patients as you connect with local health departments, referral networks and hospitals. For example, a patient in your practice may need a referral for a procedure, and would likely want to know what kind of cost is involved. Even though the referred practice or institution is not where you conduct business, you can provide access to the right point of contact for the patient. This helps to build the patient’s trust in you and that you are looking out for their best interests.
Building connections today can lead to better patient engagement tomorrow. Social networking now plays as important a role as face-to-face engagement with patients and referring practitioners. By listening to the community, building expertise within it and providing helpful information and resources for billing to patients and physicians, you become an important resource in the world of patient engagement.