Empower Your Practice

Journal for Practice Managers

SMS Marketing in the Healthcare Sector (with a Sales Funnel Example)

The rise in text messages has changed how healthcare providers talk to patients, making it more direct and focused. Whether you're good at marketing or you run a clinic and want new ways to connect with patients, this article will help you understand text messages for business purposes.

Text Messages and Messaging Apps

As many people use smartphones and messaging apps, sending short SMS messages has become a useful way for clinics to talk to their patients. These quick messages can grab attention and get patients involved right away.

If you're only using text message broadcasts as appointment reminders, you're missing out on a tremendous opportunity. It's time to leverage this channel to its full potential.

Learn how to simplify your practice workflow and free up more time for patients with Medesk.

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Here are some interesting statistics on text message exchanges that illustrate our perspective:

Over 99% of all messages are opened and read within 5 minutes or less.

5 billion people worldwide regularly send and receive messages.

85% of patients prefer receiving text messages via phone or email.

So yes, text messages are applicable to healthcare organizations. Think of text messages as email 2.0. It's a new and improved way to maintain patient communication.

Advantages of sending text messages in communicating with patients

  • High levels of openings and responses. Text messages have an exceptionally high open rate, with the majority of messages being read within minutes of delivery. Moreover, the response rate to such broadcasts is generally significantly higher compared to other forms of communication (emails, phone calls), allowing for increased interaction with patients, their engagement, and consequently, retention.
  • If you're using an SMS service you can check the SMS delivery status to know if the patient received the notification or not.
  • Instant and direct communication. Text messages provide instant and direct communication with patients. Messages are delivered straight to their mobile phones, ensuring that crucial health information or urgent promotions reach patients in the shortest possible time.
  • Convenient for patients. Since text messages are delivered to patients' mobile devices, they ensure convenience and mobile communication. Patients can quickly read and respond to messages, literally on the go.

Medesk helps automate scheduling and record-keeping, allowing you to recreate an individual approach to each patient, providing them with maximum attention.

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Read also:

Messaging in Healthcare Compliance with Text Message Marketing Rules

Clinics must adhere to SMS marketing rules and obtain explicit consent from patients before sending promotional messages. Understanding the legal aspects of this is crucial.

SMS broadcasts require brevity due to character limitations. While messaging apps have no specific character limits, people are accustomed to receiving short and meaningful messages, and no one will read lengthy texts. Hence, it is crucial to craft short and informative messages that effectively convey the necessary information. Clear calls to action and personalized content can enhance patient engagement.


While text message broadcasts can be highly effective, finding the right balance between frequency and timing is crucial. The last thing you want is to irritate or overwhelm your valuable patient base. Overloading patients with frequent messages can lead to irritation, and untimely messages may be overlooked. Finding the optimal rhythm and timing is key.

The frequency of sending SMS and messages via clinic patient messenger also depends on the clinic's goals, needs, and patient expectations.

  1. Appointment reminders: Similar to email, sending reminders about upcoming appointments via SMS or Messenger is a critical function. The optimal frequency may vary, but reminders are typically sent a day or a few hours before the appointment.
  2. Confirmation of appointments: After a patient schedules an appointment, you can send an SMS or messenger message to confirm the appointment with the date and time.
  3. Informational messages: Messages containing essential information about the clinic, new services, or changes in operating hours, such as a change in phone number, can be sent when relevant. This may occur several times a month or quarter.
  4. Notification of test results: When test results are ready, send patients an SMS or messenger message so they can obtain more detailed information.
  5. Promotions and special offers: Text message broadcasts can be used to share information about discounts, promotions, and special offers, encouraging patients to visit the clinic.
  6. Holiday greetings: Sending holiday greetings can be a pleasant gesture that strengthens the bond with patients. These messages can be sent during holidays or important dates.
  7. Urgent notifications and tips: In cases of urgent schedule changes, appointment cancellations, or other critical events, SMS can be a useful communication method.
  8. Following medical recommendations: Send patients reminders about taking medications, follow-ups with doctors, and the need for additional procedures, promoting better adherence to medical recommendations.
  9. Answers to questions: Patients can use SMS or messengers to ask questions to doctors or clinic staff, improving the accessibility of medical services and facilitating communication. This also allows for personalized interaction with each patient, creating a close and trusting relationship between the clinic and patients.
  10. Monitoring health status: Through messengers and SMS, conduct surveys among patients about their condition and treatment outcomes, quickly identifying issues and responding to them.

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Text message broadcasts offer direct and immediate communication with patients, ensuring that important messages reach them in the shortest possible time. High open rates, fast response times, and convenience make them an attractive communication option for clinics.

Tips and Recommendations on SMS Marketing Campaigns

SMS marketing in the healthcare industry is a powerful tool for connecting with patients, but it's important to use it carefully to avoid crossing the fine line between informing and annoying. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  1. Timing: Avoid sending messages at inappropriate times, like early morning or late evening. This can irritate patients and be perceived as an intrusion into their personal space.
  2. Opt-in and opt-out: Get patients' consent for sending SMS messages and provide them with the option to opt out at any time. This increases respect for their privacy and personal preferences.
  3. Personalization: Strive to make messages personalized by considering patients' past visits, interests, and needs. This helps them feel important, not just part of a mass distribution.
  4. Value and utility: Focus on providing valuable information, such as reminders of upcoming appointments, useful health tips, or details about new services that might interest the patient.
  5. Segmentation: Segment your audience and send messages that are relevant to specific groups of patients. For instance, avoid sending pregnancy-related information to those who don't need it.
  6. Security and legal compliance: Ensure the security and compliance with privacy laws (e.g., HIPAA, GDPR) regarding patient data. This is crucial for maintaining trust.
  7. Clarity and brevity: Keep messages short, clear, and informative. Avoid unnecessary length and complex terms.
  8. Feedback: Offer opportunities for feedback and suggestions. Patients can share their preferences, helping you better adapt to their needs.
  9. Consistency: Send messages with moderate frequency. Avoid frequent and intrusive notifications to prevent patient fatigue from information overload.

Following these principles will help you use SMS marketing in healthcare effectively and ethically, fostering positive relationships with patients.

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Types of SMS Funnels for Healthcare Professionals

In SMS marketing, sales and interaction funnels are also applied, similar to other marketing channels, although their structure may be more compact due to the limited text volume in messages. Here are several types of funnels that can be used in SMS marketing.

Subscription Funnel

Stage 1: Sending an offer to subscribe to SMS newsletters.

Stage 2: Confirmation of the subscription.

Stage 3: Welcome SMS with gratitude and an offer.

Sales Funnel

Stage 1: Sending a promo offer or proposal.

Stage 2: Confirmation of interest (e.g., clicking on a link).

Stage 3: Subsequent SMS with details, reminders, and calls to action.

Stage 4: Completion of the purchase or transition to the next stage (e.g., scheduling an appointment).

Interaction Funnel

Stage 1: Sending a question or invitation to participate in a survey.

Stage 2: Receiving a response or participation in the survey.

Stage 3: Sending thanks and offering to connect for additional information.

Verification and Confirmation Funnel

Stage 1: Sending a confirmation code or link to verify details.

Stage 2: Confirming receipt of the code or completing the action.

Reviews and Feedback Funnel

Stage 1: Sending a request for a review or rating.

Stage 2: Receiving the review or rating.

Stage 3: Sending thanks for feedback and offering additional benefits.

Retention Funnel

Stage 1: Sending a personalized offer to current clients.

Stage 2: Confirming interest or interacting with the offer.

Stage 3: Regular SMS with additional bonuses or discounts to retain the client.

Healthcare SMS Marketing Sales Funnel: Appointment SMS Reminders and Services

Stage 1: Appointment Reminder SMS Campaign

  • SMS Content: "Hi [Patient's Name]! Friendly reminder about your upcoming appointment with [Doctor's Name] on [Date] at [Time]. Reply 'C' to confirm or 'R' to reschedule."

Stage 2: Confirmation and Follow-Up

  • SMS Content (Upon Confirmation): "Thanks, [Patient's Name]! Your appointment is confirmed. If you have any questions, reply here or call [Clinic Number]."
  • SMS Content (No Confirmation): "Hello, we missed your confirmation. Is [Date] and [Time] suitable for you? Reply 'C' to confirm or suggest a new time."

Stage 3: Service Promotion

  • SMS Content: "Hope your last visit was great, [Patient's Name]! Did you know we now offer [New Service]? Exclusive offer: Book now and get [Discount/Extra Service]. Reply 'INFO' for details."

Stage 4: Information and Inquiry

  • SMS Content (Upon 'INFO' Reply): "Great! [New Service] is designed to [Brief Description]. To schedule or ask questions, reply or call [Clinic Number]."
  • SMS Content (No Reply): "We hope you're interested in [New Service]. Any questions or need more info? Reply here or call [Clinic Number]."

Stage 5: Special Offer

  • SMS Content: "As a valued patient, enjoy an exclusive [Discount/Package] on [New Service] this month! Reply 'YES' to claim or 'MORE' for details."

Stage 6: Conversion and Appointment Scheduling

  • SMS Content (Upon 'YES' Reply): "Fantastic! Your exclusive offer is reserved. To schedule your appointment, reply or call [Clinic Number]."
  • SMS Content (Upon 'MORE' Reply): "Sure! Here are the details: [Detailed Offer]. To book, reply or call [Clinic Number]."

Stage 7: Appointment Confirmation and Follow-Up

  • SMS Content: "Your appointment for [New Service] with [Doctor's Name] is confirmed on [Date] at [Time]. Any last-minute questions? Reply or call [Clinic Number]."

Stage 8: Post-Service Follow-Up and Feedback

  • SMS Content: "Hello [Patient's Name]! We hope you enjoyed [New Service]. Your feedback is valuable. Reply with your thoughts or suggestions. Thank you!"

SMS service integration into your practice management software is a cost-effective way to keep in touch with your patients and offer them the automation they deserve.

When a patient feels that his clinician is just a message away for him, it builds trust and loyalty for your brand and organization. And loyal patients are very likely to refer their friends and family to your healthcare facilities. It’s a win-win strategy.

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