Today's generation of consumers is much different than it was 20 years ago (and even 5 years ago). No matter what we’re buying or who we’re engaging with, we want communication to be as quick and seamless as possible—and preferably from our mobile devices.
A newer tactic that has performed exceptionally well across a variety of industries in recent years is short message service (SMS) marketing, a.k.a. “text message marketing”. Wondering how well it’s performed? Here are some stats from VoiceSage to demonstrate:
Many practitioners overlook SMS as a platform of communication, oftentimes because they don’t know how to properly use it. But when it comes down to it, many consumers aren’t interested in logging into an app, digging through emails or going to a website to get the information they want. SMS marketing, or texting patients, has proven to be a convenient way to resolve that.
Many practices are already texting patients for scheduling appointments and following up with reminders, sending patient-satisfaction surveys, offering promotions or health tips, alerting patients for preventative care opportunities, and more.
Although convenient for things like sending reminders, promotions and surveys, texting can also become an expectation for patients and all areas of their experience with your practice. Many may expect to be able to communicate directly to (and from) their physician.
Example Scenario: A patient comes into a practice with lower back pain. The practitioner treats the patient for a week. The patient then informs the provider that they will be vacationing and asks to have their personal cell phone number in order to monitor the condition.
If texting patients is a regular form of communication they receive regarding various aspects of their visit (scheduling, reminders, etc.), it’s understandable when they would assume the same communication can be done directly between patient and provider. However, there are some issues with that assumption.
First, there’s HIPAA. Under the HIPAA Security Rule, physicians and other entities covered by HIPAA must conduct a risk assessment to determine how the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI) could be compromised when it is communicated electronically. Additionally, most physicians (regardless of specialty) are just busy throughout the day seeing other patients and cannot dedicate the time for that.
So if patients expect (or just prefer) texting as a method of communication with their physicians, what can be done to provide a good compromise? One of the most manageable options is to hire a HIPAA-compliant patient-communication platform that works well for your practice.
If you believe your practice could benefit from texting patients, here are a few options to consider:
OhMD is a widely used platform that offers HIPAA-compliant two-way messaging, live web chats, file delivery, reminders, broadcasts and more. It helps with streamlining patient follow-ups, addressing health concerns and scheduling future visits, as well as securely sending photos and links with sensitive patient information. It also prevents physicians from feeling like they need to give out cellphone numbers or reply to messages after hours—OhMD allows for automated messages to be sent directly via text. No need for patients to download an app, sift through emails or dig up a buried voicemail to find important information from their physician.
Another option is DocsInk—another top choice for HIPAA-compliant secure messaging, used by thousands of healthcare professionals every day. DocsInk Messenger offers consult requests with accept/decline options, broadcast messaging, a rapid-response page feature, video chat and conferencing, secure document sharing within a compliant cloud, public and private group tags, user-based privileges, and other helpful features to facilitate day-to-day internal and patient communication. This tool works well with surgical facilities, hospitals, primary care clinics, home health companies, multi-specialty clinics, and more.
TigerConnect is another option for centralized data and communications on a single platform. It’s mobile-friendly with 99.99% uptime and real-time patient data. And with annual audits from the HITRUST Alliance to ensure the highest standards of security, patients and providers can rest assured sensitive data is kept completely safe. The TigerTouch® feature provides an easy, secure way to communicate with patients, family members and primary care physicians, with the ability to exchange care instructions, photos, videos and other important medical documents.