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How Text Messaging Meets Expectations of Healthcare Consumers

Consumerism in healthcare continues to grow in influence, and healthcare organizations are recognizing how existing technology can meet changing expectations.

As healthcare organizations look to find new and innovative ways to meet consumer expectations and engage them through their preferred channels, bi-directional text messaging capabilities are becoming an important tool in meeting consumers where they are.

With successful contact rates of 97–99%, text messaging is an efficient way to connect with the healthcare organization’s population rather than getting lost in an email inbox. Sending consumers appointment reminders, enabling them to schedule or reschedule appointments and empowering them to ask their provider questions within a single text thread are just samples of the potential use cases of integrating text capabilities within the consumer engagement workflow.

A disparate communication ecosystem

By communicating with consumers via a wide range of channels – phone calls, voicemails, emails, patient portal messages, etc. — healthcare organizations can run the risk of creating a disparate communication ecosystem not benefiting the consumer. Individuals are juggling a lot during the day — from being on conference calls for work to transporting kids to activities in the evenings — and it can be difficult to manage the voicemails, emails and patient portal messages from their provider.

When homing in on just appointment reminders sent via phone calls, one research project found that the contact rate was as low as 30% in most healthcare settings. Low contact rates can disrupt workflows for support staff by creating a scenario where they are playing phone tag with consumers throughout the day.

“We are hitting a turning point where consumers really don’t understand why healthcare is different from other industries. To meet consumer expectations, providers need to adopt the technology to engage consumers where they are,” said Jessica Oveys, senior director, patient engagement at Cerner.

With only 19% of consumers saying that they can communicate with their provider via text message and 98% of consumers liking the channel for healthcare communication, there is an opportunity for organizations to truly meet consumers in their daily flow.

Unifying communication with consumers

To help combat the issue of a disparate communication ecosystem, bi-directional text messaging capabilities can help enhance the experience for consumers. According to a research survey, 85% of participants preferred text updates to email, phone calls or patient portal messages.

By bringing communication into a single thread, healthcare organizations can provide consumers with a convenient way to manage their care. According to a survey, 95% of consumers receiving text communication from their provider felt more connected to their clinical care team.

“Consumers are looking to find convenient ways to get in touch with their provider.” Says Oveys. “They don’t want to have to schedule an appointment or call the provider to answer a quick question about their care.”

Here are a few potential use cases of utilizing bi-directional text messaging capabilities within the consumer engagement workflow:

Appointment reminders: Sending appointment reminders to the consumer in advance of their visit to help keep the visit top-of-mind for the individual

Schedule and reschedule appointments: Empower the consumer to schedule their next appointment or even reschedule a visit right within the text thread

Appointment confirmations: Request the consumer to confirm their appointment to help reduce no-show rates

Appointment arrival and safe wait: As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, enable consumers to inform staff about their arrival via text message and empower them to wait in their vehicle until it is time for their visit

Forum to ask the provider questions about their care: Empower consumers to text the provider organization questions about their care

Text messaging capabilities also help support the staff’s ability to engage consumers and enhance their workflow efficiency throughout the day. As part of a research project, 91% of participants agreed that text updates helped them avoid calling the office.

Meeting consumers where they are

According to a study, the average smartphone user receives as many as 63 notifications per day. This volume of notifications — from app push updates, text messages from friends and family to phone calls — creates noise that a provider needs to cut through to reach the individual about such an important topic, their care.

Bringing the conversation and updates about their care into a single text thread can help meet the consumer where they are and keep them engaged in their health.


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