The Evolution of Relatient’s Patient Engagement

Blog, Patient-Centered Engagement

The Short Version
Relatient began with patient appointment reminders and found that automating a combination of text, email and phone calls was really effective at reducing appointment no-shows and was highly appreciated by staff and patients. Expanding on that lesson Relatient has worked hard to understand what works and to make all patient engagement as simple and relevant as appointment reminders.

The Longer Story
In 2010 Relatient’s CTO, Kevin Montgomery, created an appointment reminder solution and quickly recognized the multi-modal outreach approach to patient engagement was surprisingly effective — no-show rates dropped significantly and many practice managers began to unload a portion of their routine manual calls. Automating text, email, and voice for appointment reminders just made sense and was an easy win for practices. Patients and providers both saw value and adopted it quickly. 

While competitors and other companies moved to popular tech solutions like web-portals and flashy apps to supplement engagement, Relatient had a hunch that the success of appointment reminders was its simplicity. The hunch was confirmed as we learned about BJ Fogg’s behavior model — every action, habit, or behavior requires three things to happen: trigger, ability, and motivation. Simply providing access to something does not work, a trigger needs to happen, and once triggered, a person needs to have the appropriate ability and motivation to accomplish it.

A trigger can be the doctor mentioning something, a piece of mail, phone call, text, etc. Ability refers to the level of effort required to take action on the trigger. An example would be if the doctor says to a patient that the practice has a portal where patients can view their lab results once they make an account. It may difficult at that moment to pull out a phone or computer to sign up, and as they leave they may forget or loose motivation to create an account. The general rule of thumb if you want to encourage a behavior is to trigger it at the right time and make the behavior as easy as possible to take so that the motivation is less of an obstacle.

This concept is what Relatient has built its platform around — outreach to patients at the right time and to complete as much of the work as possible for the patient so that it requires very little effort for them to act. This is why we verify the patient without the need of a username or password, and built out web interactions that do not require an app download.

As an example: MDpay, a Relatient solution, sends patients a text message notifying them of a balance due. Relatient created a special link just for them so that they do not need a username, but instead, they are asked to verify something they do not have to look up, like their year of birth. That’s it. Now they can see their bill and pay it. Taking it one step further, MDpay has already collected their billing information when they visited the office, so when they get that text message, all they need to do is confirm the amount and method. The process takes less than 30 seconds.

At Relatient we saw a need to define this approach as one that engages patients holistically, based on their existing needs, habits and desires, and works hard to remove barriers to action by doing the hard work upfront. We call it Patient-Centered Engagement and it defines how we approach engagement.

Sometimes it’s easier ask patients to download an app or remember a password, but it shifts the burden to the patient and lowers engagement — that’s just something we won’t do.


Make text, email and voice an integral part of your patient engagement.