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‘Selling’ Quality Measures: Start Treating Patients Like Customers

Among the strategies for driving improved clinical quality measures and better health outcomes, are selective targeting of CQMs, and staff and patient engagement.

In my last blog post, I wrote about how provider groups may have the best clinicians delivering the highest quality care, but can’t rely on just that to bring in patients. And that those great doctors and nurses aren’t necessarily going to draw in patients for important, clinical quality measure-related preventive health immunizations, tests and screenings on their own. I compared it to the film Field of Dreams, and how just “building it” doesn’t ensure that “they will come.”

Among the strategies for driving improved clinical quality measures (CQMs) and better health outcomes, are selective targeting of CQMs, and staff and patient engagement.

I wrote about the selection process last time, so let’s move on to staff and patient engagement. The key here is to think like any business out there that needs to set up internal processes, market to their potential customers and make it easy for those customers to “buy.”

Is Your “Sales Force” Prepared?

So, once you’ve selected the key quality measures for your organization, it’s essential to build internal support amongst your “sales team” to meet your goals:

  • Educate. As you roll out your program, take the time to engage with your physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and office staff to make them feel part of a movement.
  • Motivate. Investigate if it’s possible to motivate your physicians, perhaps by creating a program that allows them to share in any revenue resulting from improved measures.
  • Report. Produce weekly reports that let providers know which patients require particular services associated with CQMs or ensure that your EHR alerts them to these requirements.

Do You Have A Marketing Plan?

Once you’ve got your team engaged, you need to successfully engage customers – I mean patients – in managing their health. It’s important to communicate why the action you’re recommending is important. Do this well and you’ll have greater success improving adherence, increasing patient satisfaction and driving better health outcomes.

Whether the goal is to schedule more cancer screenings, improve post-discharge follow-up, or increase vaccination rates, consider taking both a macro and a micro approach to patient engagement.

  • Macro. Use broad communication tools—your website, contact center, outdoor advertising, direct mail, waiting room materials, etc.—to educate patients about the importance of particular services, who needs them, and how to access them.
  • Micro. Employ a more personal approach in the doctor’s office, especially with at-risk patients. Coach your staff to take the time to discuss why various services and programs are important and how the patient will benefit.

The Customer’s Always Right, Right?

Interacting with patients on the communication channel they prefer will make your outreach more effective. If you signed up for the email list at one of your favorite local businesses to find out about sales and specials, wouldn’t you find it a little annoying if they kept calling you with that information instead?

Today, it’s as if each generation has a preferred communication channel. Seniors tend to favor calls, those in mid-life respond well to email and the under-30 set have embraced text messages and online channels.

Technology has made these outbound channels—automated calls, emails, texts and smartphone push notifications—cost-effective for patient engagement. Every day, Fortune 500 companies in the airline, banking, utility and retail industries employ the right channel, or orchestrated set of channels, to successfully engage and motivate millions of their customers.

But be mindful that you must have a patient’s “express consent” to contact them on their mobile phone—by voice or text—to be in compliance with federal regulations.

Grow Your “Business”

If this seems like a lot, it’s really not – start small, focus on a key set of CQMs and leverage existing programs as much as you can. Even if you need to start thinking like a “mom and pop shop,” it’s a big step in the right direction as you strive to improve your patients’ health outcomes and realize the financial and other incentives that come with improved quality measures.

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Vance Clipson

About Vance Clipson

Vance Clipson, senior principal, industry solutions for Nuance Communications, focuses on vertical-specific strategy and marketing with an emphasis on healthcare, financial services and government. Clipson brings 25 years of experience translating industry needs and data into market strategy and programs for Milliman, PacifiCare Health Systems and other organizations.