Why You Should Incorporate Patient Texting In Your PracticePosted: December 22, 2022 - By Health Dev
Cell phone use has become common in the past few years. Many healthcare providers have started incorporating text messaging to communicate with their patients.
Patient texting means providers can send patients important information. Additionally, it can help patients stay connected with their care team.
There are many benefits of patient texting, especially for patients who need routine care. Below, we take a deep dive into why you need to use patient texting in your medical practice.
What Studies Say About the Effectiveness of Patient Texting
Research shows that patient texting is a great way to improve patient engagement and communication. Patients who receive text messages from their providers are more likely to:
- Understand important health information
- Adhere to their care plan
- Stay connected with their care team
- Feel more supported by their care team
These patients are also less likely to call their provider with questions, which can free up time for providers to see other patients. Patient texting can also help reduce readmission rates.
When patients get timely information from their care team, they’re more likely to stick to their care plan and stay healthy. University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers found that patient texting was a promising way to reach unvaccinated patients. The study found that texting and calling received the same response rate. Likewise, another study found that text messaging can support patient behavior change.
Physicians can send health information updates via text. They can also send their patients appointment reminders and medical messages through text. These texts improve patient outcomes by keeping them informed and engaged.
Likewise, patients can update their physicians through text messaging. For example, they can log any changes in their symptoms, side effects, or medications. By doing this, patients can help their physicians make more informed decisions about their care. Plus, it allows healthcare providers to offer a tailored response to each patient.
The Benefits of Utilizing Patient Texting
Every healthcare professional should leverage opportunities to improve patient engagement and communication. These are two of the most important factors in achieving optimal health outcomes.
Communication helps develop meaningful relationships between patients and healthcare providers. It can establish trust. Patients will feel more comfortable discussing their health condition, symptoms, and treatment options.
Both email and text messaging are excellent channels for reaching patients. However, while not everyone reads their emails, most people read their texts.
Or, at least, they get a notification on their phone without logging into an account. It makes text messaging a more effective option for reaching patients. Here are some benefits of using secure text messages in patient-physician communication.
Collecting Patient Data Gets Easier With Electronic Forms
With electronic health record systems, collecting patient data has become easier. You can now use secure text messaging to send patients links to fill out their medical histories. They can also fill in their demographics and other important information.
It’s a great way to reduce paperwork. It also makes it easy for patients to provide you with the necessary information. You can also use patient texting to send reminders for appointments and lab tests. If an important health event is coming up, you can inform patients about it too.
Automated Texting Can Save You Heaps of Time
Like any other form of communication, texting also takes time. This is especially true in cases where you have to send a tailored response.
However, there are several avenues where automated texting comes into play. Here are some ways to automate texting in healthcare.
- Gauge patient experience: You can send automated text messages with patient satisfaction surveys and get real-time feedback.
- Confirm appointments: You can send appointment reminders and confirmations via text message.
- Reach more patients: You may use text-based reminders to encourage patients to come in for their annual physical or checkup.
Automating text messages saves you time by allowing you to focus on other important tasks. Instead of drafting and sending messages, you can use that time to see more patients or take on other responsibilities.
Patients Have Easier Access to Healthcare When They Need It
Medical practices that use patient text messaging see higher retention and satisfaction rates. This is due to the fact that patients have easier access to care when they need it.
For example, if you offer 24/7 on-call services, your patients will be able to reach you anytime they need help. That’s a level of accessibility that’s hard to match.
Additionally, patients are more likely to follow up on their care when they can reach their physician. With text messaging, you can send links to useful articles, videos, and other resources that patients can use to manage their health better.
2-Way Messaging Enhances Communication
A meaningful patient-doctor relationship depends on communication. Secure text messaging allows for two-way communication that can enhance the relationship between a patient and their physician.
Previously, patients would have to wait for a callback from the doctor or nurse. With text messaging, patients can get in touch with their care team and vice versa. That way, patients can get their questions answered, and physicians can provide timely updates on a patient’s status.
It Can Help Cut Costs and Boost Revenue
Patient texting also has the potential to save practices money. For example, you can use text messaging to reduce no-shows.
By sending automated text messages, you can remind patients of their upcoming appointment and reduce the number of last-minute cancellations.
In addition, you can use text messages to follow up with patients after their visit. This will help you identify any issues early on and take appropriate action.
Moreover, text messaging can also boost revenue. You can use it to send appointment reminders, confirmations, and follow-ups. By keeping your patients engaged through medical texting, you can increase the likelihood of them showing up for their appointment and following through with their care plan.
Types of Texts
Patient text messaging involves many types of texts, such as appointment reminders, educational messages, and care coordination updates. Here are some types of texts you can send your patients.
Medical messages include appointment reminders, test results, and post-operative instructions. You can also use text messaging to answer basic questions about medications and procedures.
Suppose a patient is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. The radiologist could send a text message reminder to the patient on Wednesday afternoon. The message might say, “Your MRI is scheduled for tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. Please arrive 15 minutes early and bring your insurance card.”
Or a patient who has just been diagnosed with high blood pressure could receive a text message with basic information about the condition and treatment options. Then, the physician could send them resources to learn more, like links to websites or PDFs. You can also send educational messages to help them better understand their condition and how to manage it.
Moreover, care coordination updates help patients keep track of their appointments, medications, and test results. These texts can be sent to patients by their care team, including their primary care physician, specialists, nurses, and pharmacists.
Besides patient appointment reminders and educational messages, you can also use text messaging to send marketing communications. For example, you can promote a new service or product, offer discounts and coupons, or advertise special events.
You can also use text messaging to survey your patients about their experience at your practice. The feedback can help you improve the quality of care you provide.
When sending marketing communications texts, it’s important to ensure the recipient is comfortable receiving messages. You should also comply with regulations, if any.
For instance, healthcare practices cannot advertise several drugs or devices in one text message. You should not include links to landing pages in your texts unless the recipient has opted into receiving them.
Patient Texting Best Practices
Patient texting integration into your EHR or other clinical workflow platforms can help improve communication with patients, but only when used correctly. You don’t want your patient’s mobile device to become a distraction for them, so it’s important to set some ground rules for how you will use patient texting in your practice.
Get Your Patient’s Consent
Patient consent forms should include a section on texting. It should let patients know that you may send them appointment reminders or other important health information via text message. You should also explain how you will handle patient data.
Explain what security measures are in place to protect their personal health information. Make sure you have your patient’s consent to send them links and photos. If you send other attachments via texts, get consent for them too.
Let Them Know They Can Opt Out at Any Time
Patient texting doesn’t have to be a one-way street. If a patient wants to stop receiving texts from your practice, they should be able to do so. Include opt-out instructions in every text message you send. Make sure your staff is aware of how to remove a patient from the texting list if they request it.
Some patients might want to opt out after they’ve received their appointment reminder. They might not need any further correspondence. Others might prefer to continue receiving texts. But they might want to change the frequency of the messages.
Patients should be able to control how and when they receive texts from your practice. If they have questions about getting texts from your practice, you should answer them.
Cover All Your Bases to Remain Legally Compliant
Secure text messages follow HIPAA compliance to protect patient privacy. But there are other legal considerations to keep in mind when using patient texting.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has rules in place that govern how commercial businesses can use auto-dialed and pre-recorded calls, which include text messages. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) applies to any text messages sent using an automated system, which would cover most mass-texting platforms.
You should review the applicable laws and regulations before using patient texting in your practice to make sure you’re in compliance. Otherwise, you could face hefty fines.
Ensure That Messages Get Delivered to the Correct Patient
Suppose a patient is scrolling through social media on their phone, and they start getting resources for cancer care. They go into ultimate panic mode.
It turns out they came to your practice for a routine exam and opted to get their reports through text. Lucky for them, nothing worrying comes up. But you sent the resources meant for another patient suffering from cancer to this individual. They were only expecting the results of a routine checkup.
It’s important to have a system that ensures texts are only sent to the intended patient. That would help avoid mix-ups like this. It might mean creating a unique code for each patient or using their full name and date of birth in every message.
Patients getting the wrong text messages can be very problematic. For one, it goes against the rules of secure texting in healthcare. You might send personal health information to the wrong person, which could lead to a HIPAA violation.
Second, it can cause a lot of anxiety and confusion for patients who are expecting important health information. They might think they have a serious condition when they don’t, or vice versa.
Moreover, patients might miss important updates. For instance, if you send a reminder for a follow-up appointment to the wrong patient, the intended recipient might not come in for their visit. Likewise, patients could miss out on medical intervention and test reports that are important for their care.
Reach and Retain More Patients With a Compliant Messaging Solution
Medical texting has become an important part of patient care. Patient messaging helps patients better manage their health and make appointments. It can also improve patient engagement and retention rates.
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