Patient expectations for positive healthcare experiences continue to rise thanks to the streamlined experiences they have as consumers with other industries. Other industries prioritize convenient communication along the customer journey so that interactions are meaningful, convenient and informative. For healthcare organizations, this means that they can no longer leave all responsibility for creating positive experiences through between-visit communication with the patient.
Twenty-four percent of Americans say the healthcare professionals they currently visit do a poor to fair job treating them like they are a valued patient.1 For patient populations that are attempting to either manage or improve their health, opportunities exist for providers to leverage communications technology to add value to their experiences. Thankfully, providers today can automate their patient outreach. This enables healthcare teams to maintain and tailor communications that support patient populations in better managing their at-home care. Providers can add even greater value to these disease management communications when they adopt and use a channel that continues to gain in popularity—texting. Compared to seven years ago, patients are twice as likely to want their providers to text them. By engaging with patients through text, providers are better able to help their patients reach their health goals and thereby deliver superior care experiences.
Texts Keep Patients on Track with Appointments
Effective and continuous communication is pivotal in the overall management of patient health. And, one of the most powerful healthcare tools in the world is within arm’s reach—the mobile phone. It’s estimated that 95 percent of Americans own a cellphone. It’s time to get a little creative with your automated messaging technology. Here’s where SMS text messaging comes in. It’s proven to be one of the most effective communication channels in existence. Text messages reach your patients instantly and are far less intrusive than a voice call. Text messages enable patients to interact with your communication on their own time, increasing the communication’s efficacy. In fact, it’s estimated that text messages have an open rate as high as 98%. Need further proof? According to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), two-thirds of healthcare organizations have adopted SMS appointment reminders for their patients because patients see their text messages more easily than other forms of communication.
Healthcare organizations and medical staff manage hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of appointments each month. As new appointments are made, existing ones are confirming or canceling, or even failing to show up entirely. With so much going on, it can be difficult for healthcare teams to make sure patients are coming in as recommended. The solution? Ask patients to sign up for SMS healthcare updates and alerts. Automating your reminder and recall messages will not only save staff valuable time, but it will also help your patients stay on track with their care.
Encourage patients to schedule recommended preventive care appointments, especially those high- and medium-risk patients who typically require more frequent visits. Design specific SMS messaging for different patient populations by their diagnosed conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, etc. It’s equally important to give attention to illness prevention in healthy patients as it is to prevent complications or acute care episodes in high-risk patients.
Texts Support Patients with Ongoing Motivation
Even when patients are given specific care instructions from their healthcare provider, they still need gentle and encouraging reminders to help them stay on course with reaching their health goals. Making lifestyle and behavior changes are notoriously difficult, so patients need continuous support and encouragement. To support these patients outside of appointments, providers can send SMS wellness reminders.
These helpful messages can cover a wide variety of subjects. For example, if a patient is struggling with obesity, messages can focus on the importance of sticking to a healthy diet and remind patients of the benefits of weight loss, such as gaining more energy and reducing their risk of disease. Another use case is helping diabetic patients to be healthier. Providers can use SMS messages to encourage their patients to eat healthier and get their A1c checked regularly. According to the American Heart Association, cardiology patients who received automated text reminders about physical activity walked an additional 2,500 steps per day. These SMS messages offer better features than a voice call, as they can include hyperlinks to valuable educational resources and can be easily retrieved for future reference.
With greater communication with patients outside of office visits, providers can lead the way to create better health outcomes for their patients. Maintaining ongoing communication with patients is even more feasible today thanks to the high adoption of cell phones and text messaging. To learn more about how SMS text messaging is impacting healthcare, read our white paper, “Provider-Patient Texting Is Poised for Growth.”
1 West Corporation, Improving Care Healthcare Study, 2018.