Texting between patients and healthcare providers continues to grow in popularity. From 2011 to 2018, the number of patients who have exchanged text messages with healthcare providers has more than tripled (5% vs. 17%). And, according to results from a recent West survey, 11 percent of patients say texting is their top preference for receiving communications from their healthcare teams.
Here is a look at five reasons why texting is appealing to patients:
- A majority of patients own and frequently use mobile devices with texting capabilities. A 2018 Deloitte survey found that 85 percent of adults in the U.S. are smartphone owners. And, Americans check their phones 52 times per day on average. For the many patients who regularly have their phone in hand or within reach, text messages are a convenient way to receive communications from providers.
- Texting helps patients and providers stay better connected between appointments. Many patients don’t feel healthcare providers do enough to support them outside of face-to-face appointments. West’s survey revealed that nearly seven in ten patients (69%) want their healthcare providers to communicate more between appointments. Healthcare teams can use text messages to routinely engage and connect with patients about everything from health management to billing.
- Text messages can be used to quickly communicate timely information that improves healthcare experiences. Patients appreciate knowing if their provider is running late or needs to reschedule an appointment. Healthcare teams can send text messages to notify patients about changes to their scheduled appointments. This allows patients to adjust their arrival time or make other preparations so they can have better healthcare experiences.
- Texting allows patients to receive reminders that help them manage chronic conditions. Forgetting to take medications or follow other care instructions can quickly derail efforts to manage chronic diseases. Healthcare providers can help patients stay on track by sending text messages to remind patients to follow their care plans. While it may seem like a small thing, a simple text reminder can provide the nudge patients need to follow treatment plans.
- Texts can help educate patients and encourage participation in preventive healthcare. One criticism patients sometimes have about providers is that they are reactive rather than proactive. Many patients claim to want more guidance on how to prevent health issues before they arise. Healthcare teams can demonstrate their commitment to preventive care by sending patients prevention-themed text messages. Providers can notify patients when they are due for routine exams, recommend specific preventive screenings, invite patients to attend community wellness events or share relevant wellness information through text messages.
Clearly, there are many benefits to using text messages to communicate with patients. But texting is just one of the options healthcare teams have for engaging patients. For a closer look at healthcare communication trends and how providers can deliver on patients’ expectations, check out Moving Healthcare Communications into the Future.