A growing number of clinics, hospitals, and health networks are embracing text messaging (SMS/MMS) as a vital communication channel. Below, we highlight seven text messaging benefits in the healthcare industry:
Text Messaging Benefits in Healthcare #1: Texting Closes the Provider-Patient Gap
A recent survey found that 4 in 10 Americans are afraid of visiting their doctor’s office during the pandemic. Text messaging helps re-establish the vital — and in some cases life-saving — connection between patients and physicians (as well as all other healthcare providers).
Text Messaging Benefits in Healthcare #2: Texting Improves Staff Efficiency & Productivity
Generally, texting is far more efficient for staff than phone calls. Sending a text typically takes less than 10 seconds, while making a phone call usually takes at least a minute or two — assuming, of course, that patients answer their phone in the first place, which is often not the case! On the other hand, the average smartphone user checks their device 96 times per day.
Benefits in Healthcare #3: Texting Appointment Reminders Reduces No-Shows
Missed appointments — a.k.a. no-shows — cost the U.S. healthcare system an astronomical $150 billion each year, and the problem has become significantly worse during the pandemic. In fact, the situation has become so bad that healthcare insiders are referring to missed appointments as “Covid’s shadow crisis.”
Text messaging reminders have been proven to increase appointment adherence, which means that patients get important and in some cases, critical care that they need, and healthcare providers cut waste and maximize capacity. Everyone wins!
Benefits in Healthcare #4: Texting Instructions & Motivation Boosts Compliance
According to the “forgetting curve” theory, most people start forgetting newly-learned information after just 20 minutes — and after one month, they have forgotten about 75% of it! One can easily imagine how dangerous this is in healthcare. In many cases, patients must strictly follow specific instructions. This includes things like not eating two hours before and after taking medication, not mixing two medications, etc.
In addition to this, some patients who do not necessarily forget some or all of their physician’s (or other healthcare provider’s) instructions, nevertheless find themselves with a lack of motivation — especially if their road to recovery or symptom alleviation is long and difficult.
This is where text messaging benefits come in. Texting has been shown to help address both of these problems. With respect to information retention, research has found that texting improves patient compliance. And when it comes to inspiration, a recent study found that 7 in 10 patients adhered to their healthcare provider’s instructions after receiving motivational messages through text.
#5: Texting Improves Record Management
Text messages are digital documents that are automatically stamped with the date/time. They can easily be attached to each patient’s electronic health record (EHR) for reference, compliance, and audit trail purposes.
And just as valuably, responses from patients are also part of this digital archive. For example, a patient who verbally agrees to provide additional information or take care of an overdue bill may forget (or claim to forget) the discussion; especially if it happened some time ago. However, if that patient made certain statements or commitments in a text message, then there is no risk of misunderstanding. This can make all the difference between a matter getting solved vs. becoming worse.
#6: Texting Improves Internal Communications
So far, we have focused on the benefits of texting as it relates to the provider-patient relationship. But texting is also highly advantageous for colleague-to-colleague communication. A study found that group-texting between teams was an effective, fast, and private way for doctors and nurses to communicate. This was particularly true regarding upcoming surgeries, treatment responsibilities, diagnostic results, shift changes, and so on. Naturally, the same advantage applies to all other healthcare organizations and offices (e.g. dental practices, chiropractic clinics, etc.).
#7: Texting is HIPAA Compliant
The last but certainly not least text messaging benefit is this. Some healthcare providers have been reluctant to adopt texting because they are worried about running afoul of HIPAA rules. However, provided that text messages do not contain information that identifies a patient (including name, date of birth, treatment/condition information, etc.), then they are in compliance.
The standards that healthcare providers must meet are covered by the Technical Safeguards of the HIPAA Security Rule, which requires that healthcare providers must implement:
- Technical policies and procedures that allow only authorized persons to access electronic protected health information (e-PHI).
- Hardware, software, and/or procedural mechanisms to record and examine access and other activity in information systems that contain or use e-PHI.
- Policies and procedures to ensure that e-PHI is not improperly altered or destroyed.
- Technical security measures that guard against unauthorized access to e-PHI that is being transmitted over an electronic network.
The Bottom Line
All healthcare organizations — from small clinics and practices, to large multi-site hospitals and health networks — are under relentless pressure to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and meet the high patient quality of care standards. As we can clearly see, texting checks all of these boxes!
Discover the text messaging benefits of our all-in-one cloud phone system, which is trusted by numerous healthcare organizations. Contact us to schedule a live guided demo, which we can deliver in-person or over the web. Call Carolina Digital Phone now at (336) 544-4000.