How Patient Engagement Technology Expands Your Pharmacy’s Access

Your pharmacy is likely a brick-and-mortar building with four exterior walls. So how do you break out of your four walls? How do you expand your access? How does your unique message reach your patients where they are — wherever that is? The answer is modern patient engagement technology that delivers personalized messaging, that’s configurable to your needs, and smart enough to manage it all.

But how does a sophisticated patient engagement solution do all that?

1. Patient Engagement Technology Essentials

This is the part of a patient engagement platform you expect: messaging and technology. While today’s solutions go far beyond the basics of outbound patient messaging and inbound IVR, you can’t build a house without a foundation, and basic patient messaging is the foundation to modern patient engagement.

How do the elements of best-in-class patient engagement technology such as inbound IVR, outbound messaging, online refills and mobile apps deliver the five-star experience of your best pharmacists?

  1. An inbound IVR that’s more than just an auto-attendant goes a long way in delivering an enhanced experience that promotes greater engagement. It’s how your patients reach you, and it’s the first impression your patients get of your pharmacy. And it should behave that way. If your patients are agitated by the time they get to you, how do you save that interaction? On the other hand, if you offer a better solution such as an auto attendant with human-like communication capabilities then you can turn that experience into one that’s more personal and convenient, helping the patient easily navigate the pharmacy and get the information or refill that’s needed. I know it sounds too good to be true, but the pursuit of natural language processing is where the best-in-class technology is, even if not quite there yet.

  2. Outbound messaging that reacts in real-time to your PMS can help you deliver a better patient experience while helping your pharmacy gain workflow efficiencies. Are you still sending refill reminders to patients who picked up their scripts yesterday? Or are you struggling to manage central fill location communications? There’s a solution that seamlessly integrates with your PMS, enabling you to avoid return to stocks and save time so your pharmacists can spend more time delivering clinical services that improve patient satisfaction and outcomes while generating revenue.

  3. Online refills offer an added layer of convenience and are an important part of any patient engagement solution. This seems like a no-brainer, but there are still patient engagement solutions out there today that don’t offer online refill capability. Today’s population is online first. To deliver a better patient experience your pharmacy needs to be online first, too. As a patient being able to order your refill online with ease and convenience creates a more satisfying experience that gives the individual a sense that the pharmacy really cares about him/her needs.

  4. Mobile apps offer pharmacies a way to stay connected to patients who feel comfortable with technology. For some retail and hospital groups, a mobile app is the right choice. How do you decide?

Three Reasons to have a mobile app:

a. Patient demand: If your patients want an app, you should have an app, it really is that simple. Think about polling your patients or leveraging market research to determine if a mobile app is right for you.

b. Patient satisfaction: Today’s patients are more connected than ever before, and demand more than ever before. Offering an app keeps you connected to those patients, allowing you to deliver the 5-star experience patients require.

c. Real-time connections: Mobile apps are the ultimate in real-time, bi-directional communication for your patients, and your PMS.

What pharmacies should look for in a mobile app:

a. Branding opportunities: Your mobile app must be yours, not your technology provider’s. Your patients deserve a seamless branding experience within your mobile app, just like they get in your stores.

b. Bi-directional connections: Any mobile app must communicate with your PMS in real-time, supplying prescription status updates to prevent return-to-stocks. In addition, consider the additional integrations your mobile app must make, such as with your overall communications solution, if they are not the same.

c. Ease-of-use (and install): To be as useful as possible, your organization needs to consider the mobile app’s patient UI (going back to that 5-star experience) as well as the install process. Your IT team needs to be prepared for what’s in store for them when you bring a mobile app into the equation.

2. Companion Revenue Opportunities

Best-in-class patient engagement technology goes beyond simple outbound refill reminders to inform patients when they may be eligible for a vaccination for flu, shingles, pneumonia and etc. Companion or “by-the-way” messaging adds game-changing revenue to your pharmacy, and keeps your patients on track with their healthcare goals.

But keep in mind, the messaging shouldn’t be generic. The message, whether deployed inside your inbound IVR, via text, or email must be relevant, timely, and informative. Otherwise, your patients could think you’re targeting them with an ad or spamming them.

What does it mean to be relevant, timely, and informative?

Relevant: Quite simply, the message must make sense to the patient on the receiving end. If you’re sending adults under 50 messages about Shingrix, or patients who don’t have diabetes information about your DSME classes, they’re going to be confused. The plus one revenue opportunity must fit with the patient’s needs and healthcare guidelines to create true engagement and prompt the patient to take the recommended action that leads to better health outcomes and increased revenue. 

Timely: Just as vital as the relevance of the messaging, is the timing of the communication. Back-to-school season is also back-to-immunization season. After all, a flu shot reminder in August will resonate a great deal more than one in May. Do you have patients who recently turned 65? Medicare Part D messaging can guide them to choose a plan that’s in-network for your pharmacy, and in their budget. And the best patient engagement solutions include a plan comparison tool for free. Providing a Medicare Part D plan comparison, when the patient is faced with making a complex decision,  provides a valuable service and builds loyalty and satisfaction among a group of patients that you want to retain at your pharmacy.

Informative: Patients want and expect helpful healthcare information from their pharmacy.  For example, information about vaccinations and a link to an educational website is welcomed. By providing more details and possibly information from a respected third-party organization you can instill more trust and generate positive next steps towards better health.

3. Unmatched Agility

Out-of-the box solutions belong in the past. Your patient engagement tool should be agile, flexible, and configurable, not only with your messaging, as illustrated above, but in the technology itself.

Can your existing solution turn messaging campaigns on and off as needed? Is the software modular by design, offering a chance to purchase only what you need now and what you can utilize in the future? And what about agility in software management? Do you have to log-in for every location or can you access a single dashboard that is flexible enough to manage messaging for all your locations? For example, a truly flexible solution with controls configured for efficiency enables you to set  IVR holiday messages or hours of operation changes across multiple locations all at once.

And finally, what about agility in tracking and analytics? Can your existing patient engagement technology show you how your stores are performing? What channels are driving success for your business, and which ones need work?

Patient Engagement Technology: An Extension of You

A truly best-in-class patient engagement solution is more than just an IVR, or patient messaging, or even a companion revenue generator. It’s your operational right hand, your star pharmacist to the power of ten, and the path to opening your pharmacy to the future: clinical services.

If your existing platform isn’t up to the task, it’s time to ask yourself: Are you in need of an upgrade? OmniSYS can help faster than you can imagine.

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