Who doesn’t text these days? Text messaging (SMS) is now one of the most frequently used forms of communication in the world. Texting has been around for decades (the first ever text message was sent in December 1992). So why are we talking about it now?
According to Statista, mobile users in the United States sent 2.2 trillion SMS or MMS messages during 2020, up from 1.5 trillion messages in 2017.
While it has taken a while for SMS messaging to become the norm in health care, text broadcasting is now being hailed as the most effective way of communicating with patients. During the pandemic, SMS messaging has become a vital component of the health care toolkit.
The acceleration of broadcast texting is revolutionizing patient engagement.
Why health care providers are shifting comms to text broadcasting
Broadcast text messaging enables healthcare facilities to send bulk communications for specific purposes. It means providers can communicate information quickly and easily on everything from health management to new services, changes to existing services, and efficiently cover off many other administrative tasks, such as sending appointment reminders and alerting no-shows.
So, why is text broadcasting so effective? It’s simple – consider the facts:
- There are 290 million Smartphone users in the U.S. and texting is the most used function
- 81% of Americans already use text as a means of communication
- 95% of texts are read within 3 minutes
- On average, Americans now check their phones 96 times a day
- 83% of people prefer to receive appointment reminders via text
- Texting is at least 10 times quicker than making a phone call
The pandemic has acted as a catalyst for text broadcasting in health. Management consultancy firm, McKinsey, report on a surge in the growth of telehealth during COVID-19. This has been enabled by the following factors:
- increased consumer willingness to use telehealth
- increased provider willingness to use telehealth
- regulatory changes enabling greater access and reimbursement
Perceptions in health care on both sides – providers and patients – has changed. There is now an expectation that more communication will happen via text.
Text broadcasting is now driving patient engagement into an exciting new chapter.
Here are 4 reasons why:
1. Efficiency and timing
In the not too distant past, a great deal of time was wasted in health care playing phone tag. But thanks to text broadcasting, communications are being streamlined. The simple fact is, text messages have better reach than other forms of communication, such as email.
Using appropriate text messaging software, such as that provided by PatientTrak, bulk messages can be scheduled and deployed at a desired time, either during care visits, between appointments or at specific touchpoints in the patient journey. Information can be relayed efficiently in real time at the touch of a button.
Another accelerator has been patient safety. COVID-19 created the need for new patient flows and text messaging was ready to provide part of the solution. Crowded waiting rooms are no longer appropriate. PatientTrak’s virtual waiting room, for example, allows providers to text patients who are waiting outside to let them know when they are ready to be seen, minimizing the number of patients inside the building.
It’s a well-known fact that text appointment reminders are effective in reducing no-shows. Text broadcasting enables providers to target people at times most likely to optimize compliance and appointment attendance.
2. Open rates and receptiveness
Research evaluating the use of text messaging in health care during the pandemic found that engagement rates averaged at 90%. Survey responses demonstrated:
- 98.2% of patients liked the text messages
- 95.5% said that they felt more connected to their care team
- 91.9% of patients agreed that the text updates helped them avoid calling the office
For some time now, the business sector has responded to the ‘mobile-first world’, using SMS messaging as a core means of communicating with customers, since emails get far less attention. Texts are read almost instantly.
Health care providers are now playing catch-up with the business community in terms of communication tools, and are turning to HIPAA-compliant text messaging platforms.
3. Better support
Treatment adherence for patients with long-term health conditions is reputedly poor. But research indicates a significant improvement when text messaging is used to prompt patients to take their medication. A meta-analysis carried out in 2016 concluded that “Mobile phone text messaging approximately doubles the odds of medication adherence.”
Text messaging not only acts as a prompt, but importantly helps to build trust and strengthen the relationship between provider and patient.
Some conditions are notoriously difficult for some patients to manage – blood sugars for those with diabetes is just one example. A study which introduced a diabetes text-messaging program to provide instrumental and emotional support for participants may have contributed to clinically meaningful improvements in blood sugar levels.
Texting is a more convenient way for providers to operate. More importantly, it also a more convenient way for patients to receive and digest information they can act on.
Texting makes it far easier for providers to prompt patients and keep them engaged, through reminders, surveys and health information.
4. Tailoring to specific needs
Highly tailored intervention in health care is effective in obtaining positive clinical outcomes. Text broadcasting can be used to target specific groups of patients and messaging can be adapted to suit different audiences.
Text messaging platforms, such as PatientTrak’s, enable providers to send HIPAA compliant messages to patients, staff and family members, and to auto-send messages based on pre-defined criteria. It means patients and staff are guaranteed to get the right messages at the right time.
Text messages can be used to confirm appointments, as medication reminders, for simple check-ins, to clarify symptoms, and much more.
Capitalize on patient engagement with PatientTrak
Poor communication increases the risk for medical errors, creates a negative working environment, and increases the cost of health care provision.
Numerous studies on the use of text messaging in health care illustrate the benefits, particularly in terms of health outcomes and compliance with treatment protocols.
PatientTrak is a cloud-based patient tracking and engagement platform providing patient flow monitoring, kiosk and staff check-in, text messaging/broadcasting and process visibility.
If you want to proactively update patients, improve engagement, and maximize patient compliance and satisfaction, we are here to show you how. Get in touch with our expert team today.