Secure Texting: Improving the Patient Communication Experience

Anyone remember the days of bag or car phones, the old grey and beige brick size phone with a long antenna, or maybe even the first StarTAC flip phone? Over the past few decades, cellular phones have decreased in size and shape but dramatically increased in quality of pixels, screen resolution, camera sharpness, storage, and reception. People are no longer needing to pick up the phone and call each other or even leaving voice messages if no response. Text messages have become the mainstay of communication in the 21st century because of their ease of use. The first text message was sent on December 3rd, 1992, through a PC before they were able to be sent through cellular phone keyboards starting in 2006. Texting has introduced a new era for medical practices that are trying to reach patients quickly and conveniently.

A new report from a leading healthcare communications company found that automated, two-way texting was one of the most successful patient engagement innovations of 2019.1 They concluded that this process far outweighs the ability of email, phone, and fax for engaging with patients to schedule and confirm appointments. This removes that barrier of being put on hold as soon as someone picks up the line: “Thanks for calling Dr John’s office, would you mind holding”? Minutes later a patient may go back through automated system, get placed on hold a second time, get upset and just end the call.

The results of the study showed the following:1

  1. Reminder response rates were significantly higher for those sent via text message (52%), compared to 28% for email and 26% for phone reminders.
  2. Patient’s preference for text communication is age agnostic. The 18-34 year olds had 43%, 55-74 year olds had 56%, and 75-94 year olds had 39%.
  3. Research found that patients are significantly more likely to respond to post-appointment requests for feedback through text (38%) compared to email (19%).

According to our partners at Updox, secure texting puts the patients first by helping to improve outcomes and overall family satisfaction with quick updates.2 Secure texting can also help coordinate referrals, improve staff productivity by eliminating time calling patients, and even provide consults with other providers in real-time. It allows easy team collaboration between not just patients and their physicians, but also with their families, pharmacies, and other specialists.2

With at least 97% of smartphone owners texting regularly, it only makes sense to consider using text reminders at your practice.3 With so many other hindering tasks taking up your office staff’s time such as managing employees, processing forms, and working with insurance companies, don’t let scheduling appointments be one of them. While overbooking can lead to patient dissatisfaction, leaving unfilled openings can negatively impact productivity and revenue.

To learn more about how Practice Fusion is partnering with Updox to provide patient engagement solutions to clinicians, watch our recent webinar.

References:

  1. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/consumerism/patients-60-more-likely-to-respond-to-texts-than-emails-report-finds-3-notes.html
  2. https://www.updox.com/solutions/engagement-solutions/secure-text
  3. https://www.textrequest.com/blog/texting-statistics-answer-questions/