Utilizing Text Messaging in Healthcare

By Hari Prasad, CEO, Yosi Health
Twitter: @YosiHealth

By offering patients well designed tools that easily empower them to play a more active role in their healthcare, providers are dramatically improving the patient journey and significantly reducing the workload facing front office staff. It’s happening everywhere, from the implementation of telehealth appointments to the adoption of remote, contactless, pre-arrival patient-intake. Healthcare practices need to enhance the patient and staff journey leveraging an ever-growing array of emerging consumer centric digital technologies.

But why not texting?

Although SMS texting has been around for quite some time, the medical community has been slow to use it as a tool to quickly communicate with patients. That’s interesting, because patients use text all the time in their daily lives – and so do the physicians and medical staff. The lack of adoption in the care continuum is a huge and inexplicable disconnect.

When delivering healthcare something as simple as a text message can be used to send patients reminders about medication use or refill availability, appointment dates, patient intake services, safety policies, option to pay for their visit and breaking general health information such as a local outbreak of Monkeypox or similar. On the patient side, text messages can be used to quickly schedule or change scheduled appointments or customize their information in seconds – without having to endure a long phone call with the office. This in addition to being able to attach important medical files, referrals, insurance and id images etc. That’s a win-win for both the patient and practice.

A recent FICO survey revealed that 80 percent of consumers would like the option to use their smartphones to interact with their health care providers. Adding text communications to a practice is a practical and cost-effective solution to successfully engage and communicate with patients, thus providing a positive patient experience. Not to mention, with nationwide staff shortages affecting the healthcare sector, text messaging can be deployed to administer common tasks such as scheduling follow-ups more efficiently and sending out routine appointment notifications.

When the pandemic hit, many adults postponed or even cancelled their annual medical check-ups or delayed treatments with associated negative consequences. By utilizing text messages, a practice can inspire patient compliance, including scheduling services such as annual physicals or wellness visits – appointments that could be lifesaving. Increased patient volume also translates to increased revenue.

While the menu of patient intake solutions on the market vary greatly, there are several that allow healthcare practices to securely implement texting. Some solutions offer true bi-directional texting which centralizes the SMT communications so that a practice’s administrative staff has access to all incoming communications, while others offer one way communication channels that are best used for mass reminders such as a blood drive or flu shot reminders. That’s why it’s important to evaluate a patient intake management solution to see what it offers and make sure such communications are compliant with HIPAA regulations.

Texting is one of the most practical forms of communication that is streamlining patient engagement and intake workflows as well as significantly improving the patient and staff experience. Again, adding HIPAA compliant SMS to your workflows from solutions that include patient intake services will improve patient health and outcomes while lightening the load on your support staff, increasing your bottom line.