Doctor discussing treatment options with a patient.
Doctor discussing treatment options with a patient. Photo courtesy: 2019 Fotolia

Selecting preferences is commonplace in our digital world. Users subscribe or unsubscribe from email lists, request notifications from their favorite brands, and update their privacy settings on social media networks.

It’s a win-win for both parties; consumers receive relevant communications when they are given a voice regarding their areas of interest, preferred frequency, and preferred communication channel. Likewise, businesses get better ROI on their campaigns and build trust and loyalty with their customer base. These principles apply to healthcare organizations and their patients as well.

First-hand insight
Healthcare marketing teams are granted first-hand insight into unique customer characteristics and interests- the ultimate opportunity to give patients exactly what they want and to enhance relationships. And patients now expect it; especially in view of strict regulations including TCPA and CCPA. However, while preference collection is important, how a business manages that information is critical to maintaining compliance. Unfortunately, many organizations still miss the mark.

The first step is for healthcare marketing executives to understand their needs. Not all preference management platforms are created equally; yet many companies try to take the easy way out, choosing to leverage an existing system that is not designed to meet the needs of complex organizations. For example, the majority of SMS and email service providers have built-in preference collection interfaces, where data is stored within the system and provides access to administrators.

While this approach provides basic functionality and may meet the needs of healthcare facility offices with a sole communication channel, larger healthcare organizations or providers face complex challenges, requiring more robust and integrated technology.

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All too often, large healthcare companies with multiple departments and communication touchpoints require a more sophisticated solution to better serve their patients and avoid compliance risk. They are simply unaware of the risks they assume, and opportunities forgone by relying on a simple preference collection webpage.

Not a simple task
Surprising to many organizations, preference, and consent collection is not a simple issue to tackle. DIY solutions lack proper governance that drives preference management capabilities and fails to distribute information across the entire enterprise, leaving each business unit with varied perspectives of a patient and their preferred communications. Without a unified view of the patient, each department risks sending impersonal communications to those who have made the effort to share their preferences.

Further, compliance is jeopardized by the systems’ inability to record consent history and track changes to preferences. In the wake of a violation accusation, patient consent and preference history is essential to defend your company. As the amount of data escalates and regulations continue to evolve, employing an oversimplified preference collection webpage heightens the potential for legal battles and presents more alarming issues than it attempts to solve.

A single entity?
Patients view their healthcare providers, like most companies, as a single entity, but basic preference collection webpages prevent providers from behaving like one. They behave as siloed systems, information systems that isolate data from the rest of the healthcare organization. By resorting to a simple preference webpage, healthcare companies are missing out on the opportunity to communicate more effectively. When patient preference information is shared across the organization, marketing efforts can be customized to effectively deliver a personalized and consistent message. Instead, customers experience inconsistent interactions, unwanted emails or texts, and phone calls; they are turned away feeling unheard.

For example, many doctor offices today offer cosmetic services or product offerings that may not be covered by insurance. However, some of their patients may prefer to only receive communications related to their regular visits and desire minimal marketing communications offering additional services to them. Having a more intelligent system that can manage the preferences of all individual patients makes it easier to understand what each one wants and needs.

The dangers of oversimplification
Once healthcare organizations are aware of the dangers associated with oversimplified or DIY systems, they realize the value of comprehensive enterprise preference management solutions. A centrally located management system is necessary to minimize risk; integration across the whole organization guarantees all units are in-sync with the patient, communicating with them accordingly. These systems build trust, enhance vital patient relations and ROI. Additionally, if compliance is called into question, robust preference management systems protect legal authority through following regulatory rules, recording data, and providing healthcare organizations with a full history of each consent permission to date.

Many healthcare organizations build their own internal solution for consent and preference collection in an attempt to save money or retain control; ironically, they are losing money and missing the mark. When deciding whether to build or buy, these organizations must be aware of the differences with each approach. Preference webpages collect fragmented data and fail to integrate information provided by the patient.

As a result, organizations open themselves up to compliance violations and negative patient relationships. On the other hand, investing in a preference management system integrates information company-wide and continuously evolves with data privacy regulations to protect your company and remain compliant. These systems allow you to optimize your communications and patient relationships.

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