The benefits of connecting with patients via text messaging

We live in an age of precision medicine, robotic technologies, EHRs, patient portals and telemedicine platforms - technology has improved and streamlined healthcare in so many exciting ways. It can be easy to overlook the fact, therefore, that when it comes to healthcare, older and more elementary digital technologies can be equally effective at helping to promote patient care. One such platform is text messaging. A number of  physicians practices and hospital departments have now introduced text messaging systems to communicate with patients. 

As Medical Protection detailed, an SMS service can be used for simple tasks such as sending appointment reminders, notifying patients about the arrival of test results and so on. Special secure text messaging services can be designed and set up by external providers, and messages can be sent to computers. Put another way, physicians and medical staff  should not use their personal number or a practice cell phone to respond to such calls. It's also important to keep in mind that before text messages are sent out, patients must state explicitly, in writing, that they are comfortable receiving communication in that way, Physicians Practice stated.

Despite the potential for teething problems, there are so many benefits to be gained from implementing a text messaging service at your medical practice or hospital department. They include:

1. Encourages preventative care
Secure text messaging can be used to remind patients to take medications and complete other necessary at home tasks pertaining to health care, such as fasting before surgery and so on. This service is beneficial as reminders can help patients stay on top of their personal health care at home, which in turn can help improve outcomes, HIT Consultant explained. The source also noted, citing a study from the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, that patients tend to prefer text messaging reminders as a form of communication. The study examined patients who received reminders in several communication formats prior to a surgery - voicemails, texts and emails. A majority of respondents - some 80 percent - stated that text messaging was the best way to receive the notification.

2. Improves scheduling
Forgotten appointments are common, which costs a medical practice time and money. A major benefit of a text messaging service is that it can notably improve patient attendance, Fire Text explained. That's not to mention the fact that missed appointments could pose a threat to a patient's health, particularly if they need to be monitored by a health professional on a routine basis.

3. Cuts costs
The cost of administrative work can be slashed thanks to secure text messaging systems, which can be used to message multiple patients at once, according to research published in the Health Services and Delivery Research journal. For example, whereas in the past patient reminders had to be delivered by secretaries via phone calls, SMS eliminates this time-consuming and costly process.

4. Improves communication
As Fire Text noted, text messaging systems are effective at improving communication between healthcare providers and patients. Indeed, with routine messages and reminders patients will likely feel more informed and empowered to take charge of their healthcare.

Kevin McCarthy's picture

Kevin McCarthy

Industry News Editor

An avid traveler and news junkie, Kevin covers a range of topics from healthcare technology to policy and regulations. As a former journalism student, he enjoys finding stories relevant to small practices and is passionate about keeping them informed. Before joining NueMD, Kevin worked for Turner Broadcasting as a Programming Intern where he conducted legal research and contributed to editorial content development. He received his bachelor's degree in Communication from Kennesaw State University and currently serves as the Industry News Editor at NueMD.

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