Every year, Americans send approximately 2 trillion text messages. With more than 80% of people checking their text notifications within five minutes, text messaging is an effective, rapid form of communication.
Most messages are personal, but texting is also a convenient tool for businesses to reach customers. In fact, healthcare leads the way, accounting for 55% of business-related messages, with roughly 80% of patients preferring to communicate with their doctors via text.
According to Steve Alger, head of product at Innovista Health, practices can vastly improve patient engagement by building a text messaging campaign.
“Fostering this type of communication between practices and patients really builds trust,” he says. “It empowers patients to take proactive control of their health.”
Investing in a well-designed text messaging initiative can lead to better patient outcomes. By working with a partner, practices can create efficient systems without adding to their workload.
Good long-term health outcomes depend heavily on patients receiving the services they need. That includes seeing their doctor for annual checkups and taking their medications correctly.
“Engaging with patients about their upcoming screening services or overdue annual wellness visits is crucial for their health and well-being,” Alger says. “It helps detect potential health issues early, enabling providers to recommend the best treatments in a timely manner.”
Unfortunately, up to 55% of patients across the country miss their primary care appointments. If they skip that visit, they’re 70% more likely to overlook a return visit within 18 months. Additionally, only around 50% of patients with chronic conditions take their medications correctly. So, there’s an ongoing need to encourage patients to keep up with their routine healthcare.
Recent research shows text messages can improve patient engagement for both primary care and preventive screenings, as well as mental health services.
According to one study, text reminders for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screenings increased screening rates between 0.6% and 15%. The same is true for patients who need primary or mental health care. Using a text messaging campaign reduced their missed appointments by 7% and 11%, respectively. It also decreased same-day primary care cancellations by 6%.
Text messaging campaigns encourage patients to be proactive about their health. However, digital communication is highly regulated, especially with patients. Practices need to consider several factors before they send out text reminders. When designing a campaign, practices should keep these factors in mind:
Practice staff members are already stretched thin between patient care needs and administrative responsibilities. Asking them to oversee a comprehensive text messaging campaign can be overwhelming. This is where a partner like Innovista can be helpful. They can assume responsibility for segmenting patient groups and scheduling each text send.
Currently, Innovista is taking steps achieve this goal. They are analyzing data from practice members to segment patients into four text message groups. Based on these results, they will send messages to remind patients to schedule their annual checkups, as well as screenings for breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer. Innovista plans to distribute the first batch of text messages by the end of 2023.
“Many practices are already burned out and overburdened. Often, they don’t have the technology capabilities in-house nor the desire to build out a text messaging campaign themselves,” Alger says. “A partner can manage this year-round, day-to-day interaction with patients. We aim to streamline the process, take the administrative burden off practices, and allow them to focus on patient care. Text messaging is a great way to do that.”