Article

Automated secure messaging services

To meet health care industry mandates and improve the patient experience, practices should consider adding automated, secure messaging to their patient engagement strategy. Automated, secure messaging can streamline routine patient communication, helping practices improve efficiency and strengthen patient engagement.

A fully integrated suite of patient communication services can offer practices automated appointment reminder and bill reminder services, and can provide secure messaging, delivered in the patient’s preferred format (e-mail, text message or phone call). Practices can free up valuable staff time by using widely accepted automated messages, while patients benefit from a convenient connection to their practice.

Automated, secure messaging can be used for a variety of communications: as a medical appointment reminder, to inform patients of a medication schedule, to alert patients in the event of a weather closure, or to drive better health of a patient population by promoting an upcoming immunization clinic or other population health event.

Automated, secure messaging can also be used to efficiently deliver test and lab results, especially those results that don’t require further consultation or follow-up. It costs a practice valuable time when staff must send individual e-mails or make telephone calls to deliver test results. And those phone calls compound inefficiencies and costs when they inevitably lead to a game of phone tag with busy patients. Using automated, secure messaging, practices and health care organizations can deliver test results more efficiently and cost-effectively.

The value of secure messaging becomes even more apparent considering the requirement within Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use program that participating eligible providers exchange secure messages with a certain percentage of their patients. Practices must comply with the secure messaging requirements of Stage 2 to successfully attest and receive their incentive payment.

The use of automated, secure messaging can contribute to significant cost savings for a practice, simply by eliminating the time staff spends on the phone manually delivering a long list of patient communications including appointment reminders, test results, and general patient information. Based on an athenahealth estimate using projected figures, a practice with 6,000 patients can save $375 in monthly labor cost by automating their medical appointment reminder calls; $1,000 a month by outsourcing test result calls; and more than $3,000 a month by releasing staff from having to provide general patient information by phone.*

*Based on athenaCommunicator data gathered during a beta testing period. These results do not necessarily reflect what a new athenaCommunicator client should expect. Every practice is different and the assumptions behind these potential results are based on real-world experiences within practices and regular input from beta clients.

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