Most home care providers have an ongoing list of ideas and strategies that they hope will help increase client/patient and family satisfaction. The one recurring item on all of these lists is improved communications.
A 2021 research study of home care consumers revealed that a better quality of communication is, indeed, vital for client/patient satisfaction. Among the findings was that most clients/patients and their families would choose a home care provider if they offered real-time communication via smartphone, tablet, or computer.
95% said that communication responsiveness influenced their satisfaction with their home care provider, with only 40% being fully satisfied with their current provider in this respect.
Of course, all home care agencies provide some level of communication with their clients. Still, it doesn’t always give clients/patients and their families immediate access to the information they’re looking for or the speedy responses they desire, and can fall short in communication-oriented categories in home care client satisfaction surveys.
The excellent news for home care agencies is that these communication problems can easily be resolved, and are well within their control, through leveraging the right communication technology.
This is one sure way to gain a competitive advantage, increase your client/patient and family satisfaction scores, and strengthen your referral networks.
Why improving communication is so important
Being able to access information and communicate effectively with clients and families are essential components of client and family-centered home care.
After all, home care is an industry built on solid relationships, where trust is essential and communication is key. Consistent and effective communication should be at the top of every home care agency’s priority list if they want to build and sustain client satisfaction and retention. It also offers multiple additional benefits, including:
- Ensures any misunderstandings or potential problems are quickly identified and resolved, improving client/patient safety
- Keeps families fully informed on their loved one’s care and improves their home health education
- Increases trust and client loyalty to your agency (increasing LCV)
- Improves office staff and caregiver job satisfaction, increasing retention
- Improves your agency’s reputation, strengthening referral partnerships
- Results in a higher percentage of client referrals, including positive reviews.
Improving communication within your agency, benefits not only your clients but also their family members, your office staff and caregivers – and, ultimately, your bottom line.
Five top tips to improve communications with your clients/patients and families
1. Assess your current communication efforts
Before you can begin working on a client/patient communication and engagement strategy, you need to assess your agency’s current efforts. What is working for your teams, clients and families and, more importantly, what is not?
This is a good time to ask for feedback to gain an understanding of everyone’s pain points with your current communication methods. Not only will you get valuable data to help you fine-tune your strategy, but asking for feedback (and taking action on it) can help create positive relationships and boost confidence in your agency.
Additionally, you are already demonstrating better communication by giving your staff, clients and families a voice, listening to their feedback, and making the necessary changes to improve.
2. Focus on how your office staff communicates with clients and their families
A recent Home Care Benchmarking Study by Home Care Pulse revealed that while good communication between clients/patients and their caregivers is important, consistent, positive communication between clients and their home care agency actually has a much more significant impact on client/family satisfaction.
Additionally, the study showed that clients and families were more likely to recommend a home care provider if their satisfaction with office staff communications was high.
Training office staff to communicate in a timely and effective manner with your clients, and providing them with the tools they need to do so, reflects well on your agency as a whole. Your office staff is typically at the front line in shaping clients’ first impressions of your agency, as well as forming future impressions through scheduling, coordinating care, billing, regular check-ins, and so on.
Most home care agencies put considerable time, energy, and resources into improving client/caregiver relationships. However, a shift in focus to improved office staff communication with clients and families can have a much greater impact on overall satisfaction.
3. Streamline your internal communications
For most home care agencies, communication efforts are directed externally, at clients/patients and outside partners. However, effective internal communications play an equally important role in ensuring operations run smoothly and high-quality client/patient care is delivered – especially with a remote or hybrid workforce.
When your employees are communicating and collaborating well within your agency – and everyone has real-time access to the information they need to perform their roles to the highest level – every member of your team will understand the care goals for each client/patient and be able to deliver them. They will also be able to pick up where the last team member left off, to ensure a seamless, consistent experience for your clients/patients and families.
Robust internal communications improve employee trust and engagement, helping to create a positive agency culture that naturally spills over into how your office staff and caregivers communicate with and care for your clients and families.
The right software can be used to streamline your agency’s internal communications with ease, and you should try to select a single tool for cohesion. Research the different tools available to find one that best meets your agency’s needs, ideally one that includes HIPAA compliance and mobile apps.
Although improving internal communications may take some effort and experimentation to get right, it is vital in reducing miscommunication and alleviating stress for your office staff and caregivers – and, as a result, will increase employee retention and client/patient satisfaction.
4. Leverage technology
As we have discussed, a key factor in boosting client/patient satisfaction is frequent, efficient, and timely communication, whether in person (or remotely) with the client, with the client’s family, among your office staff, or between office staff and caregivers.
Replacing manual processes with the right technology solutions – that support fast, secure, mobile communications – can significantly improve communication between your caregivers and amongst your client’s/patient’s entire circle of care, including their family.
Any technology that makes it easier for members of a client’s circle of care to connect with one another and coordinate care will ultimately improve that client’s quality of care and overall satisfaction. For example:
- video conferencing
- alerting systems
- medication management/reminders
- tools that make it easy to record, organize, and share client care documentation and updates
- scheduling tools
- client and family portals that provide real-time access to care information
- mobile apps with secure messaging.
Smartcare software is just one example of how technology can easily improve your agency’s communication across the board. Equipped with advanced communication tools, integration with Alexa® and Google Home®, and providing on-demand mobile updates and alerts, Smartcare gives your staff, clients, and their families everything they need to say engaged and connected – anytime and anywhere.
Ongoing investment in proven communication technology can be a game-changer for those agencies looking to increase their staff, client, and family satisfaction and retention.
5. Measure results for continued improvement
Once you have set up your strategy and changes have been running for a while, it’s important to provide frequent opportunities for your team and clients to give you further input and feedback. Really listening actively to what they are telling you benefits all of you and will help refine and improve your communications for even better outcomes moving forward.
Leading home care agencies are already successfully using mobile devices and intelligent software to improve their internal and external communications and gain a competitive advantage – enhancing their care-team coordination, increasing client/patient and family satisfaction and retention, winning more referrals, and receiving higher client satisfaction survey scores.