Alex Carter, Strategic Account Executive, TeleVox

Alexander Carter is strategic account executive for TeleVox, a West Corp. company responsible for driving patient quality and engagement initiatives under the West Engagement Center patient communication portfolio.

Things to Know Before Deciding on a Patient Notification System

patient doctorThe right system can help improve both outcomes and patient satisfaction, but there are questions providers need to ask before selecting a platform vendor.
December 14, 2015 AT 7:33 PM

Meaningful patient engagement and activation requires careful consideration, strategic thinking and a long-term view. Here are several critical questions to ask before making a final decision on an automated patient notification platform.

How Customizable is the Solution?

Even if the bulk of your anticipated messages begin with simple appointment confirmations, your vendor should be able to generate messaging for a number of different actions, including post-visit communication, notification of test results, appointment rescheduling, follow-up care opportunities and wellness opportunities, among others.

In addition to the kinds of messages they can generate, today’s advanced automated messaging platforms can deliver detailed, personalized messaging to thousands of patients that leads to action—from complying with treatment recommendations and remembering appointments to encouraging patients to explore alternative means of engagement, like portals and text messaging. A top-tier patient notification vendor can help you configure messages for each specific patient, including individual channel preference, ideal time of day, language preference, use of customized merge information, volume controls, ability for patient to respond in channe and any additional special instructions.

Is the Platform Interoperable with Existing Systems?

Interoperability specifically refers to how these engagement platforms communicate with your systems of record. Rather than adding yet another layer of data to hunt down, an ideal communication platform will push new information back into the system the request came out of. For example, confirmation data collected from appointment reminders or biometric readings collected from remote patient monitoring should be able to flow back into the Scheduling or Care Coordination Department as appropriate. Health outreach data should flow seamlessly back into the EMR.

Flexible and Scalable

A patient notification vendor should demonstrate flexibility in fees, such as charging per notification or per patient/member on a monthly basis to simplify budgeting. Your organization should also be able to use the same comprehensive platform for communication across the continuum of care as well as for payments.

Is the system scalable?  This includes the ability of the vendor to pool calls. For example, studies have shown that most people pick up the phone between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in their local time zone. Not all vendors have the capacity to do this, so they spread the calls out during the day which is ineffective.

Security and Stability

With any patient notification system, security of patient information should be paramount.

Is the vendor aware of and do they comply with the most recent regulations related to automated messaging, including the FTC, FCC, HIPAA and state mandates? This will mitigate potentially costly violations for your organization. Ask for proof of data security and certifications, as well as review breach contracts prior to signing to determine how much risk business associates are willing to assume.

Choosing a financially stable vendor that consistently invests in technology is mutually beneficial for both the vendor and your organization. Ask about the vendor’s recent investments in new and upgraded products and solutions. Is this a partnership that will grow and evolve over time? The last thing your organization will want to do is start from scratch a few months after go-live.

With the right vendor partner, your organization can use patient notification in a way that resonates, to change behaviors, improve outcomes and, ultimately, increase patient satisfaction.