Customer service in business has been transformed by texting. It’s all about creating a direct and efficient line of communication. So, is the health care sector far behind?
Prior to the pandemic, texting was being used by many health care providers, particularly for tasks such as appointment reminders. But the extent to which texting is used, including broadcast messaging, hasn’t been taken up at the same velocity as in other sectors.
In health settings pre-COVID-19 a lot of communication with patients still occurred face-to-face or over the telephone. But the pandemic dramatically changed how outpatient care is delivered.
Providers deferred elective and preventive visits. Patients also avoided visiting health care centers, preferring to stay safe at home. To decrease the risk of virus transmission, telehealth usage surged.
Provider and patient behaviors changed radically. Text messaging platforms offered an ideal solution to service the new landscape.
There have been a surprising number of benefits.
1. Easier scheduling
Efficient and effective appointment scheduling is a vital component of patient care. Traditionally, this has been dealt with either face-to-face, booking future appointments when the patient attends the respective outpatient clinic or ambulatory unit, or via email or over the telephone.
The increased use of texting during the pandemic has cut the time spent on scheduling and made it easier for patients. Texting is more convenient; patients don’t have to wait for clinics to open to call up and can also avoid being put on hold! Communicating via text also takes administrative burden away from staff. A prime example is dealing with patient appointments via text, which is so much quicker than making time-consuming calls.
What’s more, response rates from text are 209% higher than those from phone calls. Texts have a 99% open rate and 95% of texts will be read within 3 minutes of being sent. This makes the whole process of scheduling appointments and sending out appointment reminders much, much easier.
2. Increase reach and ensure delivery
Most American adults own a mobile phone capable of text messaging. While many people assume that older people don’t text, this is the one form of communication in which people across multiple generations are most likely to see a message and act.
- 81% of Americans text regularly
- Over 6 billion texts are sent every day
- 97% of American adults text weekly
Text messaging platforms enable providers to automate health information updates and target specific groups of patients. For example, HIPAA-compliant text messaging, such as that offered by PatientTrak, allows providers to contact hundreds of predefined patients within minutes.
3. Improve patient compliance
Studies show that mobile phone text messaging improves medication adherence for patients with chronic diseases. For example, tailored mobile text messaging interventions were found to improve glycemic control in type 2 diabetes patients.
Text message alerts, reminders, surveys, and other communications assist patients to manage their treatment and stay on top of prescriptions. Communication, the foundation of patient engagement, isn’t confined to the dialogue between a physician and patient, or another health care worker and patient – it encompasses all touchpoints on the patient journey, from appointment scheduling to medication prompts and health literacy.
Patients are people after all, who are busy and forgetful at times. Texts are a great reminder for patients to stay on track.
4. Encourage preventive care
Texts are now successfully being used, not only to manage existing conditions, but also to help encourage patients to prevent further health issues. Healthcare providers can quickly and easily share information via text, including advice on healthy diets, preventive screening, and wellness events.
From a patient’s perspective, receiving regular texts about health keeps wellbeing at the forefront of the patient’s mind. It’s proven too. A meta-analysis of 51 studies concluded that text message interventions can produce positive change in preventive health behaviors.
5. Improve health outcomes
Text messaging has been shown to encourage preventive health care behaviors and improve patient compliance. Texting appointment reminders, prescription reminders, medication reminders and other information about care, including preventative health measures, ultimately leads to better health literacy and better health outcomes.
6. A safer way to manage check-ins
Regardless of the rise in telehealth, patients are still visiting physicians in person at outpatient centers, where virtual appointments aren’t appropriate. COVID-19 has forced health care centers to manage patient visits differently. Social distancing means providers can no longer allow patients to arrive early and gather in waiting rooms.
Texting and virtual waiting rooms have become a vital tool for check-ins and such solutions are enabling facilities to manage patient flow in a way that meets their changing needs.
7. Reduce costs
Text messaging is a cost-effective way of keeping in touch with patients. It requires less staff, and many texts can be delivered simultaneously. The open rates of texts (compared to emails) are high so there is also less time spent following up and less likelihood of no-shows. Missed appointments are frustrating at best but can also have a considerable negative impact on the bottom line.
In addition, in the worst scenarios, poor communication can lead to life-threatening complications. It has been estimated that 27% of medical malpractice is the result of communication failures. Text messaging is helping to improve compliance and ensure timely and critical information is shared with patients.
Are you ahead of the curve with your text messaging solution?
Text messaging now plays a vital role in health care. Yet many providers are still behind the curve and are only just beginning to explore the possibilities. PatientTrak offers a sophisticated patient tracking solution, which includes cutting-edge, HIPAA compliant text messaging. Isn’t it time you got ahead of the curve? We’d love to show you how. Call us at 1-888-766-2862 or message us via our contact form here.