Texting Patients: When & How To Do It Right?(A Secret Guide)
Want a more personal way to communicate with your patients? In this article, you’ll discover when and how to use text messaging in the right way.
Want to improve your patient messaging? You’ve probably heard all about how powerful text messages are for patient engagement and growing your practice.
But here’s the right thing:
Without the proper strategies, your messages won’t go anywhere.
You need to make sure you are targeting the right patients, you are following up and most importantly, you have the right services.
Once you do that, you can expect an incredible result like this:
- Improves communication
- Helps to deliver better care for patients on time
- Providers can easily come to know what patients need from them
- Sending timely reminders will reduce no show rates
- Engaging with patients leads to new sign-ups
So if that’s something you’re looking to achieve, then this guide’s for you.
Here’s what we’re going to cover:
- Texting Patients: What do providers need to know?
- Benefits of connecting with patients via text messaging
- 5 Best Practices to Consider When texting patients
Let’s do this!
Texting Patients: What do providers need to know?
- 82% of people say they open every text message they receive.
- 90% of SMS messages are read in the first 3 minutes.
- 19% of links in text messages are clicked.
- 70% of customers say SMS is good for businesses to get their attention.
- 59% of users want their communications function built into the phone, not as a separate app.
- 45% is the average response rate for SMS.
Benefits of connecting with patients via text messaging
1.Encourages preventative care
A report said that patients who received a reminder via all communication mediums before surgery – emails, phone, voicemails, and texts – a majority of respondents stated text message was the best way to receive the notification.
Sending secure text messaging reminds patients about their medications, scheduled appointments, and more. This can be more beneficial as reminders can help patients to stay updated about their health from the place where they are – which also results in improved patient outcomes.
2. Sending messages improves appointment scheduling
Nowadays people forget about their appointments, which results in huge healthcare costs and time. A super cool benefit of text messaging is that it can improve patient visits.
3. Texting patients cut down unnecessary costs
The cost of administrative tasks can be truly eliminated with secure text messaging – multiple patients can be taken care of at the same time by texting patients at once. When compared to past patient reminders methods via phone calls, text messages eliminate the time-consuming process.
4. Effective communication
Text messaging system improves effective communication between healthcare providers and patients. By connecting via messages, patients may be informed about their health and perform needed actions.
5 Best Practices to Consider When texting patients
Even if your healthcare practice has a highly limited relationship with health text messages (either because it’s prohibited or only used for patient reminders and alerts), it’s worth revisiting what is and isn’t ok when it comes to texting among doctors, patients, and staff. Keep the following tips in mind whenever you unlock your smartphone to ping someone in your medical practice’s orbit.
Don’t forget about HIPAA texting rules
The HIPAA/HITECH privacy and security rules cover any communications with electronically protected health information (ePHI), including email, social media, and text messaging. Violations can earn you fines of up to $50,000. Health text messages without PHI, however, are permitted under HIPAA texting guidelines, even if they mention a patient’s name.
Understand your risks
Stay mindful that even non-traditional privacy violations related to texting can put your practice in hot water over HIPAA. After learning doctors at a nursing home had been requesting patient information be sent via text, the CMS intervened with a 10-point remediation plan that required the facility to retrain staff, appoint a HIPAA security officer, and revise its policies and procedures.
Notably, they saddled the organization with the compliance program even without evidence that the PHI-loaded messages had ever been viewed by an unauthorized party. The lesson: lock up your texting now, since you don’t even have to “get caught” to get in trouble.
Be proactive on data security
If communicating PHI via text is vitally important to your practice (due to reasons related to geography, convenience, accessibility, or anything else), then you need to go about it with an eye for hyper-vigilant HIPAA compliance. Contract with a healthcare-specific texting service (more on these platforms in a moment), making certain that their offering meets HIPAA’s minimum requirements, including:
- A high level of physical security, controls, and ongoing risk assessments for the service’s onsite or offsite data center.
- Encryption of PHI in both ‘in transit’ and ‘at rest’ states of communication.
- Authentication of intended recipient’s receipt.
- Controls enabling all messaging activity to be recorded and/or audited.
Remember to ask for consent
When it comes to texting medical information to patients, you must have their consent first and foremost. Failing to ask consent will place you in strict violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which can carry serious fines for those who fail to comply.
Patients cannot verbally consent for you to begin texting patient information to them; your healthcare practice must have written consent from any patient before messaging begins. Whether through a paper or electronic form, your patients must put it in writing that they consent to text messaging from your health practice.
Think beyond patient health
Don’t forget to stay diligent about all texting communications among your doctors and staff – even those that have nothing to do with patient health. Text messages are highly vulnerable to hacks, data breaches, and plain-old prying eyes – making common-sense caution a huge priority.
Instruct your team to never share medical billing details, patient identifiers, or any financial information via SMS. If they do, they’re simply putting the financial health of your practice management (and your patients) at risk.
If your healthcare practice needs the right guidance of patient text messaging, medical billing best practices, patient portal sign-up, and practice management, the Vozo team would be ready to help your practice to overcome the complexities of medical billing and practice management issues, so you can improve your practice revenue and focus on delivering quality care to your patients.
Ready to connect with your patients?
Here’s one last thing Vozo can do to help.
- Reach our Contact us page
- Let us know that you’re excited to try out our best EHR, patient portal, or practice management solutions
- Schedule a free demo with our expert team and start generating 10x more growth.