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11 Ways to Use Two-Way Text to Improve Patient Experience

Posted by Lea Chatham on Sep 28, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Real-time, two-way text is an ideal way to engage with patients, especially when managing a combination of in-person and virtual visits. Since the COVID pandemic began, interest in phone calls has dropped 14 percent. Patients would prefer electronic communications—both automated and real time. Here are several ways to use text messaging to give patients the experience they want while reducing work for staff.

Two-way text provides added access and convenience when patients need it most. Use two-way text to:

  1. Quickly answer common questions: Staff can spend hours on the phone each day answering simple, common questions. “Do you take my insurance?” “Do you offer same-day appointments?” “How do I get to your office?” Pre-set responses to the most common questions and respond in seconds.
  2. Pre-screen patients for COVID before appointments: Pre-screening is critical to protecting patients and staff. Text patients prior to appointments to ask if they are experiencing any symptoms.
  3. Verify insurance information: To support hybrid care—a combination of in-person and virtual visits—you need to eliminate manual, paper driven processes. Verify insurance via text. You can even ask for a photo or video of the insurance card.
  4. Offer park and text waiting: Have patients text on arrival and wait to be texted back to come in to avoid the need to try to support social distancing in your waiting area.
  5. Collect payments: Send payment reminders to patients via text and let them pay through their mobile device.

Text is also a great option for automated communication. Use automated text messages for:

  1. Appointment reminders: Automated appointment reminders sent on the right cadence can increase patient confirmations by as much 156%.
  2. Pre-visit instructions: Include pre-visit instructions in automated reminders to make sure patients show up prepared. Let them know how to participate in telehealth visits or park and text waiting for in-person visits. Pre-screen for COVID and remind them about bringing prescriptions, fasting, or other tasks.
  3. Patient intake: Sending electronic intake forms reduces manual data entry errors associated with claim denials, is more convenient for patients, and supports both in-person and telehealth visits.
  4. Follow up surveys: Electronic surveys are far more likely to be completed. A survey sent through text couldn’t be more convenient.
  5. Preventive care (recall) reminders: Most patients don’t remember to schedule follow-up appointments or preventive care on their own. Automated text reminder help ensure patients come back for the care they need to stay healthy.
  6. Get patients to the portal: Portal use has been on the rise with COVID. Many organizations are using it to facilitate other parts of the patient journey, especially for virtual visits. It’s getting patients to sign up that can be hard. SMS text is the answer. Send a link and reminder via text to drive adoption.

Text messaging is the number one app used on smartphones, and most people read their texts within 15 minutes. It is one of the most convenient ways to engage with patients. You can print or download this checklist here.

Lea Chatham

Written by Lea Chatham

Lea Chatham is the Director of Content Marketing at Solutionreach and the editor of the SR Health blog. She develops educational resources to help healthcare organizations improve patient engagement. Her work has been published in many leading journals including Physicians Practice and Medical Economics and she has presented webinars for industry groups like MGMA.