Utilizing New Communication Technology to Improve ROI, Save Time and Make your Practice More Efficient
AudiologyOnline: I understand you owned a practice 10 years ago, Since you have stepped away from your own practice, what have been the biggest changes in the industry?
Jim Rollins: Tools and technology have dramatically changed. Not only have there been big changes in hearing-aid technology and products, but there are so many technology tools to help on the business/management end of owning a practice. I definitely wish I had access to these tools when I owned my practice. One other big change is how patient preferences and expectations have evolved.
AudiologyOnline: Can you elaborate on how patients’ preferences and expectations have been changing?
Jim Rollins: Absolutely. Patients are expecting much more convenience, from being able to have their hearing-aids adjusted remotely to receiving pre- and post-appointment text reminders and messages. Additionally, patients are also no longer defaulting to the local hearing center. Rather they are researching the reviews of many centers around them and selecting providers that are favorable and offer the services they want. Small plug, I did a CE course with Audiology Online on this very topic: how patient preferences have been changing.
AudiologyOnline: How do these changes impact practices today?
Jim Rollins: Practices are having to spend more time optimizing the business management side of their practices. They are spending more time trying to stand-out from the competition by developing websites, monitoring and gathering reviews, creating digital campaigns, etc. There are so many different things you can do to optimize your practice that managing your time has become incredibly important. Additionally, practices are changing the way they reach out and communicate with their patients. 90% of patients prefer texting as a main channel of communication and we are seeing a dramatic increase in what I like to call ‘answering hesitancy’, in that people are more and more reluctant to answer the phone - especially when they don’t recognize the phone number. Communicating effectively with patients, both new and existing, plays a pivotal role in the success of a practice and providing quality patient care.
AudiologyOnline: What are some of the ways practices can better manage their time?
Jim Rollins: That’s the golden question. I believe one of the greatest opportunities is to leverage communication technology to make your staff more efficient and productive. Finding ways to reach patients more efficiently and automate redundant communications goes beyond just saving time - it allows you to focus on patient care.
AudiologyOnline: Can you elaborate on that?
Jim Rollins: We have a customer that was able to save an hour a day utilizing Weave’s texting capabilities, just one of Weave’s tools, to update their pre/post appointment communication processes. That’s more than 7 hours a week that this practice can now spend on other activities that increase your patient engagement or can drive more business. Plus there are other tangible benefits like decreasing appointment no-shows and cancellation rates when you optimize your appointment reminder cadence. Saving your staff time and eliminating missed appointments allow your staff to reinvest their efforts in retention efforts that keep their current patient base happy and engaged, or even increase other revenue-generating opportunities.
AudiologyOnline: How does technology help practices increase their ROI?
Jim Rollins: There are a myriad of ways various technologies can help generate a better ROI, but I will focus on the technology I know best, communication technology. Not only can communication technology help save staff time - which is an important variable in the ROI calculation - but it can help generate more new patients. Not to brag, but Weave has helped practices see 28% more patients*. Some of the specific ways that Weave does this is by helping practices gain more reviews through their review management tools, limiting missed opportunities through other features like automated missed-call texts (a personal favorite of mine) and decreasing no-show and cancelled appointments through Weave’s mobile app and quick list features. In the end, the more patients you are able help means more dollars in your practice, but more important it is helping more patients gain critical access to help.
AudiologyOnline: If you were to reopen your practice today, what would you do differently?
Jim Rollins: I believe my focus would be the same - providing an outstanding patient experience - but the activities and tools I used to do so would be different. Not surprisingly, I would use communication technology that helps save my staff time and aligns with providing the positive patient experience. With the right communication toolbox, I could expand the amount of services I offer and add services that can provide a better holistic patient experience. I would find opportunities to distinguish my practice from other local practices and leverage online reviews to generate new patients and gauge how well I am doing. At the end of the day there are only so many hours in the day, so I would focus my attention on those activities that will help me provide that outstanding service and bring in the most long-term patient value.