Text messaging in medical practice offers a host of benefits to a healthcare provider. It reduces errors, saves costs, improves care, and boosts profits. Patient and staff satisfaction also increases with the suitable communication systems in place. Learn all about HIPAA-compliant text messaging and how you can optimize it for your practice below.
Overview of Text Messaging
Text messaging is a powerful tool that any practice can use, and there is data to prove it. For example, 99% of all SMS are read, with an average response time of about 90 seconds. Links sent via text also have a higher click-through rate, 25 times more than emailed links.
Text messages are commonly sent to patients are for appointment reminders, payments, offers, and discounts
The Power of Text Messaging for Medical Practices
Medical practices know from experience that many patients don’t respond to calls or emails. HIPAA regulations also control patient communications, which often hinder your outreach efforts. With text messages, you can remain fully compliant while reaching out to patients A practice can send text messages in the following scenarios:
- Ask for patient feedback and online reviews through SMS
- Use a chat widget on their practice website to interact with potential patients
- Schedule and confirm more appointments
- Encourage timely bill payments through SMS reminders
- Send fully personalized or bulk messages, depending on the practice needs
For the sake of compliance, patients must consent to receive text messages from your practice. Therefore, offer an opt-in SMS service with a HIPAA compliant text messaging platform.
How Text Messaging Improves Patient Outcomes
Text messaging in medical practice offers improved patient outcomes mainly through streamlined patient communications. The main text message applications in healthcare include:
- Appointment reminders, which patients can confirm, reschedule or cancel via text
- Informing patients about appointment delays to reduce wait times
- Prescription reminders to improve collection rates
- Lab test results notifications
- Direct information via text, instead of logging into patient portals
- Seamless patient handovers in the healthcare team to reduce errors
With an effective SMS platform, the care team devotes more time and energy to their patients. Patients, in turn, can better manage their appointments and medications with other aspects of their lives.
Modern Communication for Modern Healthcare
Consumer attention is crucial for decision making, therefore healthcare practices must adapt their strategies to engage with their patients. SMS is a reliable, affordable, and effective way to reach patients no matter their age or background.
The options give SMS a far wider reach and excellent delivery and response rates. Texting also works on any mobile device, so patients don’t need an internet connection to receive and respond to them.
Why Texting in Healthcare is on the Rise
Texting in healthcare is proving a popular communication solution for all kinds of practices. Practices that adopt text messaging see precise results within a few months of implementation. Patient satisfaction rises to almost 90% and patient appointments by 14%.
Patients already prefer to text their physicians, but practices are often too busy to respond appropriately. A dedicated SMS solution helps you manage all inquiries, appointments, prescriptions, and internal communications within your practice.
5 Ways To Optimize Texting
Successful text messaging in medical practice begins with goal setting. Some common goals include:
- Higher appointment attendance
- Fewer calls to the practice
- Better survey responses for feedback
- Better appointment confirmations
Once a practice knows its unique objectives, then texting optimization can begin. Here are five key ways to optimize text messaging by a medical practice.
- Three Texts per Appointment
Appointment reminders work best if sent out in threes. The first message should reach the patient a week in advance, the second message three days before the appointment, and the third message on the eve of the meeting.
This way, patients have enough time to confirm, decline, or reschedule their appointments. Practices that use this texting strategy experience up to 220% increase in confirmations, and no-shows drop by 20%.
- 160 Characters Or Less
Any text message longer than 160 characters splits into two, which is inconvenient for the recipient. Instead, send one short text to ask for confirmation and another for further information, such as directions to the practice or links to surveys.
- Personalized Message Content
Successful text messages include the patient’s first name, indicate the practice name, and show emotion in the message. For example, “Hi Tim, this is Dr. Colin’s office. We’re looking forward to seeing you next Wednesday at 10 AM.”
This kind of messaging shows that it’s coming from a person, not an automated system. Your patient communication platform should enable you to customize your messages based on your patients’ information.
- Prepare For Feedback
If the text message requires the patient to reply yes or no, you should still prepare for alternative answers. Use a platform that allows for two-way or interactive communications. Your care staff may need the training to handle unusual text replies from their patients in a professional manner.
- Reply As Fast As Possible
Prompt responses make patients feel valued, that the practice pays attention and cares about their concerns. Ideally, patients should have their inquiries resolved within 15 minutes of initiating the conversation. Create quick automated responses using templates to save on response time.
An automatic response can answer common patient questions, such as how to prepare for their appointments. Mention any diet or medication changes and any relevant information. This allows your care team to handle complex or sensitive inquiries instead of easy, common questions.
Text messaging in medical practice is an easy and affordable way to communicate with your patients and care team. Patients always enjoy receiving updates and reminders about their health, from appointments to lab results and prescription refills.
The care team can also coordinate their schedules around patient appointments to ensure better inventory, equipment maintenance, and other daily practice operations. Text messaging streamlines practice workflow saves resources and improves patient outcomes with precise, measurable results.