It’s important to stay engaged with your patients to ensure a successful doctor–patient relationship. Effective clinical communication can lead to an enhanced patient experience, better delivery of care, and a more engaged provider.

Jessica Paul, owner and president of Apello Live Answering Service—the oldest answering service in the country (since 1934)—says the technology that allows doctors to communicate with their patients has evolved from very primitive paging systems, to texting, to secure messaging, to compliant and protected customer portals over any device, to artificial intelligence-driven automation. “Our role is to speak to patients to facilitate screening and deal with an emergency after hours,” she explains. “We use a couple methods to communicate with the doctors. We can transfer the call or notify them by a secure messaging app on their device. This app is integrated with our system, so we can tell the patient that the doctor has seen and read the message, and it makes our job more efficient.” Using the Apello customer portal too, doctors can access their messages and manage their on-call schedules in real-time. “There was a feeling once that cell phones would replace a live answering service, but there’s nothing quite like human interaction and being able to talk to a patient and provide them with the necessary care,” adds Paul.  When doctors are setting up new practices, an answering service can provide urgent care screening and capture new patient information to help them grow their practice.

Most EMR systems offer a multi-step process for doctors to communicate with their patients electronically. Many are cloud-based and can unify all communication channels (secure messaging, video, voice, alerts) to ensure the right message gets to the right person automatically. The convenience of these platforms is that they can take care of scheduling, workflow management, staffing, diagnostics, and image sharing. A patient portal is basically a secure one-stop-shop for a doctor and patient to send one another messages, reminders, schedule appointments, and share lab results. If you haven’t upgraded your hardware or software yet, perhaps you can find a more effective way to stay in touch with your patients.