Empower Your Practice

Journal for Practice Managers

7 Benefits of Text Messaging in Healthcare for Clinicians

Today, SMS is a vital part of our daily communication. Beyond connecting with friends and colleagues, it's now making waves in healthcare organizations. Doctors and medical institutions are leveraging text messaging for efficient communication with patients.

It streamlines appointment reminders, shares test results, updates prescriptions, and ensures medication adherence. SMS usage minimizes appointment no-shows, enhancing patient compliance with medical advice.

Additionally, it plays a role in notifying patients about vaccination schedules, medication reminders, and offering support during rehabilitation.

Today, we will explore the topic of patient communication and the benefits of texting from various perspectives, including:

  1. Using SMS in medicine
  2. Advantages of SMS for doctors
  3. HPAA compliance and secure medical texting
  4. Patient experience and healthcare SMS
  5. Patient appointment reminder template

Medesk is an assistant for clinic managers, collects and presents complex statistics about the work of the clinic in a simple and understandable way, that makes it easier for the manager to make both operational and strategic decisions.

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Using SMS in Medicine

Using SMS has a big plus: it lets doctors send messages directly to patients' cell phones. This means patients get important information almost right away, especially in emergencies or when quick confirmation is needed.

SMS also helps patients stick to their treatment plans. With medication reminders and procedure alerts in messages, patients know exactly what to do and are more likely to follow their doctor's advice.

SMS is handy for surveys too, asking patients about the care they got. This helps doctors and hospitals get feedback, make improvements, and provide better service.

In short, SMS in healthcare makes communication between doctors and patients better and faster, improving the overall quality of medical care. But it's crucial to keep patient information private and make sure data is secure when using SMS for medical reasons.

Advantages of SMS for Clinicians

The integration of text message reminders into medicine has brought numerous benefits for doctors. Here are some of them.

Instant communication

Texting facilitates rapid doctor-patient communication, which is crucial in medicine. It eliminates the need for time-consuming calls or meetings, streamlining information exchange.

Patient-centric care

SMS elevates patient care by sending medication reminders, urgent test results, and appointment details for follow-ups. This boosts adherence and enhances overall healthcare quality.

You can send notifications to patients about appointments, various promotions and events directly from Medesk. The registrar can easily set up automatic notifications, for example, a day or 2 hours before the visit. This option significantly unloads the work of the registry and increases patient loyalty.

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Personalized outreach

Healthcare organizations craft tailored SMS messages, offering individualized reminders, guidance, and motivation for improved health outcomes.

Front office efficiency

SMS notifications reduce front office workload, allowing administrative staff to prioritize essential tasks over routine communications.

Modern text expander programmes allow reducing the time spent on document and form filling with convenient keyboard shortcuts. Use them to insert snippets of website URLs, signatures, message templates, emails, and for note-taking.

Streamlined coordination

SMS aids seamless doctor collaboration, particularly in urgent consultations or joint problem-solving, improving overall teamwork efficiency.

Engaged patients

SMS reminders boost patient engagement by keeping them informed about appointments and medications, fostering a more active role in their healthcare.

Marketing

You can use the customer database for sending notifications, updates on special promotions, and information about accrued bonuses. Texting patients is an excellent tool for promoting new services to a warm audience.

Medesk helps to manage the work with patients. The platform tracks the entire history of interaction with them: from the attraction channel to the profit received.

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In addition to the mentioned advantages, a psychological factor can be added: the patient understands that their treating healthcare professional is just a message away. This creates a sense of closeness and trust, crucial for comfortable treatment and establishing positive working relationships.

HIPAA-compliant Mobile Text Messaging

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the United States sets the standard for protecting sensitive patient data. Mobile phone text messaging in the context of healthcare must adhere to HIPAA regulations to ensure the privacy and security of patient information. Here are some considerations for HIPAA-compliant appointment reminders and messages.

Secure messaging platforms

Use a secure short message service that complies with HIPAA standards. These platforms typically offer encryption and other security measures to protect the transmission of sensitive information.

End-to-End encryption

Ensure that text messages are encrypted from end to end, meaning that the information is secure both during transmission and at rest.

Access controls

Implement access controls to restrict unauthorized access to patient information. Only authorized individuals, such as healthcare providers directly involved in patient care, should have access to sensitive data.

Audit trails

Maintain audit trails that record who accesses patient information, when they access it, and what actions they take. This helps in monitoring and tracking any potential security breaches.

Obtain patient consent and authorization before communicating sensitive information via text message. Clearly communicate the purpose of the communication and ensure patients are aware of the potential risks.

Limited PHI in messages

Minimize the use of protected health information (PHI) in text messages. If possible, avoid including detailed medical information in text messages and use them for basic communication or appointment reminders.

Remote wipe capability

Have the ability to remotely wipe or erase data from devices in case of loss or theft. This ensures that patient information does not fall into the wrong hands.

Secure mobile devices

Implement security measures on mobile devices, such as passwords, PINs, or biometric authentication, to prevent unauthorized access.

Business Associate Agreements (BAAs)

If you are using third-party vendors for text messaging services, ensure that they sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA). This agreement outlines their responsibilities for safeguarding patient information.

Few Words about Patient Experience

The use of text messaging can improve the perception of the doctor and increase patient satisfaction with the services.

Patients appreciate the attention and care shown when receiving SMS reminders about upcoming visits. This creates an impression of the doctor's meticulous attention to their health. The patient portal can serve as a platform to provide a better interaction with you. Patients value autonomy, and your goal is to remind them of treatment while allowing them to manage real-time appointments and schedules independently.

Overall, using SMS and a patient portal for communication enhances the doctor's perception, creates a positive communication experience, and contributes to increased satisfaction with the medical services provided.

However, manually sending reminders to all patients is impractical and unnecessary. Modern practice management software, through integrations and internal services, offers the option of sending automated text messages and emails. To enhance brand loyalty and recognition, use a unique sender name for your text messages instead of a phone number.

[en] sms connunication

Let's talk about how automated appointment reminders should look, their structure, and the character count.

Appointment Reminder Text Message Sample

Text message reminders for medical appointments should have:

Personal touch: Use the patient's name for a friendly touch.

Appointment info: Clearly mention the date, time, and place.

Reminder reason: Explain why the message is sent, be it for an appointment, medication, or checkup.

Patient action: Tell them what to do, like confirming the appointment or preparing for a procedure.

Contact details: Share contact information for rescheduling or questions.

Opt-Out choice: Give them an option to stop future reminders.

Polite language: Keep it friendly and courteous.

Short and sweet: Keep it brief, under 160 characters for easy reading.

Here is an example:

Dear [Patient's Name],
This is a reminder from [Your Clinic] about your upcoming appointment on [Date] at [Time]. Please confirm or call us at [Your Contact Number] if you need to reschedule. Thank you.

You can choose any communication method for your practice: phone calls, letters, SMS, emails, or apps. It all depends on the size of the clinic, the number of patients, and your willingness to keep up with the times. Most service providers offer flexible rates for clinics, allowing you to set up modern communication services without incurring significant financial costs.

Select platforms that not only automate patient communication but also help improve other aspects of the medical business: marketing, analytics, workflow, and telemedicine.

Read about the benefits and nuances of using practice management software in our blog.

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