Texting is a fast, efficient, convenient, and highly adopted method of communication. Mobile devices can receive messages from virtually any location. HIPAA-secure messaging solutions support the sending of audio and video files, images, and other file attachments via secure text. Approximately 90% of patients aged 50+ use personal technology to stay connected and roughly 85% of smartphone users prefer mobile messages to emails or calls.
Optimizing the patient’s experience contributes to patient retention and loyalty, both increasingly important as retail disrupters expand the options to address care needs and capture growing market share. Read here for the business case of why investments in patient experience are critical.
In our earlier blog, we discussed the benefits to staff as HIPAA-compliant secure messaging expands from provider-to-provider communication to include two-way communication with patients. In this blog, we will discuss the benefits to patients of embracing two ways to digitally engage patients:
- Staff to patient secure texting
- Conversational chatbot to patient secure communication for more routine communication needs
Secure patient texting with healthcare workers can bring several benefits to the patient. Here are some of the key advantages:
- Convenience: It's hard for working people to access healthcare because most services are only available on weekdays. Long phone hold times are common as healthcare organizations struggle to hire enough staff. Who has time to sit on hold to schedule an appointment or ask a question? Who is willing to sit on hold to cancel or reschedule an appointment or procedure?
Waiting on hold is the main reason why customers are unhappy. Studies reveal that 44% of people feel annoyed, irritated, or angry when they have to wait on hold for 5-15 minutes. With the growing options from retail-based disrupters, health care organizations should take this research very seriously. Digital capabilities such as self-scheduling and the ability to securely text your doctor’s office reduce barriers to accessing care.
- Improved patient engagement and patient activation: By providing a simple and reliable way to communicate, patients are more likely to be involved in their healthcare. This can make them feel more at ease when discussing their health issues and actively participating in their treatment. As a result, their overall health outcomes may improve. They may feel more comfortable discussing their health concerns and participating in their treatment, leading to better health outcomes.
- Strengthened partnership: In 2003, the British Medical Journal published an article about patients wanting a partnership with their doctor. They wanted to work together with their doctor, rather than just having things done to them. Receiving proactive outreach from the doctor’s office improves decision-making and fosters trust.
- Improved health: Only 8% of patients receive all appropriate preventive care services, researchers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found in a study published in Health Affairs. Nearly 5% did not receive any of the recommended services. Most patients are unfamiliar with recommended practices for preventive and chronic care and how to apply those guidelines to themselves – they don’t know that they need to be seen. Many organizations have a list of patients who need preventive services. However, instead of using digital technology to educate and engage them on a large scale, they usually opt to call them. This technology is a game changer for preventive services. For example, AllianceChicago was able to increase well-child visits and preventive screening by 27% by using chatbots to provide proactive outreach, anticipatory guidance, and assistance in scheduling an appointment.
- Reduced healthcare costs: Many patients don’t have the health literacy to accurately determine when to engage about a health concern. Using secure texting can reduce unnecessary visits to healthcare facilities for minor concerns that can be addressed through text communication. For instance, automated campaigns and AI chatbots reach out to patients after a procedure or hospital stay. They remind patients of instructions and help them understand what is normal and when to seek help. Chatbots can assist with post-discharge patient care. They can check if patients are taking their medications, schedule follow-up appointments, and understand self-care instructions. Additionally, chatbots can alert the care team about any concerns. This is a task that clinicians find challenging to at scale by phone. This helps patients in two ways:
- Identifies issues that need to be addressed early before they become more serious and expensive.
- Reassures patients that some symptoms are normal, expected and they don’t need to be seen.
- Improved self-care: Approximately 20% of health outcome variations are attributed to medical care. The other 80% is influenced by choices and actions taken outside of a healthcare setting. Secure patient texting with chatbots can help ensure patients follow care instructions and identify needs for early intervention between visits. For example, chatbots can reinforce the importance of checking the patient’s blood pressure between visits, providing education and a way to capture concerns or elevated blood pressure results that indicate a need for healthcare intervention.
- Enhanced communication: Secure patient texting allows patients to communicate directly with their healthcare providers in a convenient and timely manner. Patients can ask questions, seek clarifications, or provide updates on their condition, leading to better communication and understanding between patients and healthcare workers. Digital technology can enhance patient experiences. It does this by providing relevant information, saving time for clinicians, building trust, and ultimately improving health outcomes.
- Enhanced privacy and security: Secure patient texting platforms protect sensitive health information and comply with HIPAA regulations. Patients can feel confident that their health data is transmitted securely. Organizational logos and branding also build trust by indicating that proactive outreach is from their healthcare provider and can be trusted.
- Quick and easy access to information: Patients can receive important updates such as adverse weather closures, test results, and appointment reminders through secure texting. Patients can avoid travel, get information easily, reduce waiting time, and make healthcare decisions faster.
- Improved access for remote and rural patients: Patients in remote or rural areas often find it difficult to access healthcare services in person. Secure patient texting allows patients to communicate with healthcare workers without having to travel long distances for in-person visits.
Overall, secure patient texting can significantly improve the patient experience, communication, and care delivery, leading to better patient engagement, adherence, health outcomes and satisfaction.
Bobbi Weber is the VP of Portfolio Management and Field Strategy at QliqSOFT. Bobbi is a lifelong learner who is passionate about enabling healthcare transformation. She has 20+ years of healthcare experience, in care delivery, consulting, healthcare IT, and market strategy.
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