Let’s face it: people don’t answer phone calls anymore. This is especially true when people don’t recognize the number calling them. And even if they do recognize the number calling them, there is a high probability that they are not in a situation where they can answer the phone. Voicemail can be even worse, because calling back usually means waiting on hold. That’s why it is becoming so important that, as healthcare providers, you make a change and start to text your patients.
1. Reach patients quickly and reliably
Odds are, your phone is sitting less than 3 feet away from you as you’re reading this. But if your phone rang right now, would you pick it up? Data suggests that you probably wouldn’t.
What if you got a text message right now? Would you look at it? Would you respond?
The majority of people would at least read the text message. In fact, 95% of texts are read, most within 3 seconds. This means that patients will be more likely to see, and engage with, your messaging. Whether it’s appointment reminders, follow-ups, review requests, or payment reminders, you can essentially ensure your patients are aware of your outreach.
2. Reduce call volume
If you choose to text your patients rather than call them, it opens a doorway for the patient to follow suit. Making patients aware of the option to text can pay large dividends for your organization. OhMD has seen organizations who allow patients to take a text-first approach cut down drastically on phone call volume. For example, before implementing OhMD’s HIPAA compliant messaging software, Family Practice Associates of Lexington (FPA) was dealing with what they called “round robin phone tag”. This meant a significant amount of time was being wasted calling patients, leaving voicemails, listening to voicemails, and calling patients back. This was frustrating for both staff members and patients who couldn’t get in touch with each other.
After implementing OhMD and beginning to text patients rather than call them, FPA’s average call volume dropped 22% in just four months. This means that staff were able to dedicate their valuable time to other tasks and still be sure that they are communicating effectively and encouraging patient engagement.
3. Decrease no-shows
If patients aren’t answering your calls or listening to your voicemails, it’s likely that they are missing the appointment reminder voice messages you leave for them. In turn, you may find that you have a decently high no-show rate for scheduled appointments. That’s where texting can be a game-changer.
Even if patients don’t respond to your SMS reminders, you can be pretty sure they saw your text message. In fact, by implementing texted appointment reminders, practices were able to decrease no-show rates by as much as 60%.
This means that your valuable time is not being wasted waiting for patients who are never going to come to their appointment, while also giving them an easy way to reschedule if needed. Simply improving the rate at which your patients receive and engage with your messaging can also play a major role in creating positive patient experience. Patients engaged in managing their health tend to have better outcomes.
4. Save staff time and improve efficiency
On top of eliminating phone tag, texting tools like OhMD’s Autopilot and Broadcasts allow staff to automate tasks that are otherwise time-consuming.
Using Autopilot, you’re able to automate your most common patient requests. This could include, but isn’t limited to, appointment requests, refill requests, and patient check-ins. This will allow you to eliminate tasks which previously required manual labor, while still giving your patients excellent quality of care.
Broadcasts, on the other hand, allow you to send personalized texts to patients en masse. For instance, Pediatric Care of Ogden (PCO), uses Broadcast to send appointment reminders, information confirmations, vaccine and flu shot reminders, and check-up reminders to patients every single day. Using Broadcasts, they are able to safely and effectively communicate with their patient population.
5. Provide high levels of patient support and education
Deciding to text your patients also allows you to better support your patients as they become educated on their own health status and opportunities for improving their health or engaging in preventative care. Rather than handing out paper versions of educational materials, which will probably be lost along the way, you could send that information via text.
Given that most phones now have access to the Internet, you can also refer patients to reputable online sources for them to engage with. This makes your efforts more effective, as patients will be able to easily access what you have sent them. It also means saving money which would normally be used to purchase printer paper and ink.
6. Increase compliance and adherence
Maybe your practice performs outpatient procedures and you like to follow-up with patients after they return home. Or, you need to ensure patients are fasting before their appointment so they can have their blood work done. Or perhaps most commonly, you’d like to make sure patients are keeping up with medication adherence and are still seeing benefits.
Using texting, you are able to perform these regular check-ins on patients easily and efficiently.
7. Facilitate online reviews and reputation management
Patients are increasingly using online reviews when looking for a new healthcare provider. Just as they may look at movie reviews or the rating for a new restaurant, patients are referring to reviews of providers in their area. This means that it is of the utmost importance that your practice have a wealth of raving reviews that are easily accessible for prospective patients.
Texting your patients allows you to follow up and ask for reviews from those who are satisfied. Showcase these positive reviews and increase your opportunity to get new patients looking for first appointments. If a patient had a less-than-satisfactory experience, you are also able to receive immediate feedback and work to better the patient’s experience in the future.
Using OhMD’s review tool , physicians at Champlain Spine and Pain Management were able to send text messages to leverage review requests. After only six months they were able to increase the number of reviews they had by over 200%, as well as the actual rating of the practice on Google.
8. Improve payment-related communication
Nobody likes to receive bills. But wouldn’t it be nice to receive a courtesy text alerting you that a bill is on it’s way to you? Or even better, to be able to manage your bills right on your mobile device, when it’s convenient to you?
By beginning to text your patients, you are able to offer these options to patients. And although they probably won’t start to look forward to bills, they may dread them a bit less. It also shows that you understand the stress that finances can cause and are doing all you can to reduce that stress. Simply showing your patients this sort of empathy will make a huge difference.
Benefits realized when you text your patients
Practices who have implemented patient texting report delivering better quality of patient care, higher rates of patient satisfaction, and less staff burnout. In choosing to text your patients, you are opening up doors to improve the care you are able to offer at your practice. Interested in learning more about OhMD and what we can offer?