Poor communication between patients and healthcare providers comes with consequences.
For patients, it can lead to longer wait times to receive care. A recent survey found it already takes an average of 24 days to schedule a new patient physician appointment in 15 of the largest U.S. markets, and fractured communication can make it worse. Insufficient communication can also lead to missed appointments altogether, worse health outcomes and, potentially, declining health. For example, a patient may not know an available appointment has opened up due to an unexpected cancellation. Or they may not know the follow-up steps needed when they’re diagnosed with an ailment.
For physicians, the health and well-being of their patients is always the top concern. With patient pools consistently on the rise, how can physicians communicate quickly and efficiently with so many people? Frequent communication with a base of patients is necessary and also helps clinics keep day-to-day schedules as full as possible, which in turn aids the bottom line.
Phone calls and emails have traditionally been the principal means by which doctors communicate with their patients, but today a new class of mobile-first technologies are emerging to enable a more streamlined and frictionless approach for physicians to communicate with patients. Nearly everyone has a cell phone — 95 percent of Americans own one, according to Pew Research Center, and 77 percent own smartphones. Not only are cell phones ubiquitous, 99 percent of users always open their text messages, and 90 percent do so within three minutes of receiving it.
New bot-enabled technology is powering next-level patient-physician communication with capabilities that allow text messages to be personalized and tailored to meet individual patient needs at scale. For instance, patient-specific texts can serve as reminders to take medications, guide patients in preparation of an upcoming procedure, or remind and confirm future appointments.
When it comes to improving patient-provider communication, there are primarily three areas where new HIPAA-compliant messaging is starting to make a real impact.
First, patients get to care faster. Maintaining a constant flow of communication via text keeps patients engaged and more likely to follow through with appointments. Messages can be customized with detailed appointment information and allow patients to confirm or reschedule with a simple reply. If someone happens to cancel via text, mobile-first integration technologies allow for smart waitlists to move waiting patients up to open spots.
Second, patients come back for care. A patient’s journey doesn’t end after an appointment or procedure. Staying healthy is a continual cycle that requires regular attention. Customized text messages can help physicians keep in contact with patients in the days and weeks after an appointment or procedure as a way to keep them engaged with their own health. Patients who are actively engaged with their health are more likely to return for care on a regular basis, whether it’s for preventative care such as regular checkups or yearly screenings, or more advanced procedures if and when necessary. Those who are engaged with their own health on a continual basis are more likely to become healthier overall in the long run.
Third, physicians keep their schedules full. Frequent communication via text increases the opportunity of getting patients to care faster and keeps them coming back when necessary, all of which helps the overall health of a community. It also helps physicians keep their schedules full. Consistent — yet not overbearing — text messages lead to fewer cancellations overall. In the end, this means a higher number of healthy patients, and ultimately, more revenue.
Consistent communication helps physicians keep patients involved in their own healthcare journey, improving their health along the way. Automated text messages are one of the most efficient ways to maintain this communication because they’re easy for healthcare providers to manage and nearly everyone owns a cell phone. Automatically tailoring messages to meet each patient’s unique needs make texts an increasingly go-to way for physicians to interact and engage with their patients. A simple solution to a complex problem, text messaging is already proving itself as an efficient tool to help patients get to care, and physicians better utilize their resources to treat more people.
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