Text Messaging in Healthcare: Benefits and Risks

Mia Jensen | March 21, 2023 | 15 min read
Text Messaging in Healthcare: Benefits and Risks

Text messaging has become an increasingly popular tool in the healthcare and streamline the healthcare process.

However, as with any technology, there are also risks and considerations to keep in mind.

We’ll dive into the benefits, risks, and best practices for using text messaging in healthcare. So you can make the right decisions about incorporating text marketing into your healthcare practice.

How is text messaging used in healthcare?

Text messaging in healthcare is used to communicate between doctors and patients, coordinate care, and manage patient information. Some scenarios of how text messaging is used in healthcare are:

  • Appointments and reminders: Text messages can be sent to remind patients of upcoming appointments and to provide them with important information such as location and arrival times.
  • Test results: Text messages can quickly and securely deliver test results to patients, allowing them to take appropriate follow-up action.
  • Medication reminders: Text messages can be used to remind patients to take their medications, helping to improve adherence and prevent missed doses.
  • Health information and education: Text messages can provide patients with health information and education, helping them make informed decisions about their care.
  • Asking for patient reviews: You can ask for patient reviews and feedback through text messaging. Doctors can automatically send an SMS with a review link right after the patient’s appointment. So patients can directly leave reviews from their phones with just a few clicks.

Text Messaging and HIPAA

Text messaging has become a common healthcare marketing tool. It allows for quick and convenient communication between healthcare providers and patients.

However, it’s important to ensure that text messaging must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

What is HIPAA? communicate

HIPAA is a federal law that sets criteria for protecting patient health information. It applies to the use and disclosure of “electronically protected health information” (ePHI). It includes information about an individual’s health, medical treatment, or payment for healthcare services.

HIPAA does not restrict the use of text messaging in healthcare. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals can share patient information via text message.

However, some requirements must be met before using any text messaging platform to send electronically protected health information.

It’s also important to ensure that text messages are only sent to the intended recipients and to avoid discussing any ePHI in text messages if it can be avoided.

Doctors should be aware that text messaging, while useful, is less secure when discussing sensitive information. Even though most IM platforms that are encrypted end-to-end are not HIPAA compliant.

If in doubt, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and use a more secure method of communication. To reap the benefits of text messaging in healthcare while meeting all requirements of HIPAA, a HIPAA-compliant texting platform must be used.

DemandHub is HIPAA compliant, including meeting the requirements of the HITECH Act, and offers a secure texting service that meets all requirements of HIPAA and other regulations.

Its intuitive platform and modern messaging capabilities make it easy to send text messages to patients and receive real-time responses.

What are the Benefits of Text Messaging in Healthcare?

Here are some of the benefits that using text messaging can provide for healthcare organizations.

Improved patient relationship

Text messaging can help healthcare providers stay in touch with patients. It provides timely support and guidance that leads to better patient outcomes.

For example, a provider could send a text message to send appointment reminders, medication reminders, and after-visit summaries at the push of a button. Doctors can also offer support for a specific health issue.

Increased efficiency and communication

Text messaging allows for quick and easy communication, which can help streamline the healthcare process. For example, a provider could use text messaging to schedule appointments or communicate test results to patients.

It can help facilitate communication between healthcare providers, improving patient care coordination.

Greater convenience

Text messaging allows patients to communicate with their healthcare providers from the comfort of their own homes. It can be especially helpful for those who have mobility issues or live in remote areas.

Patients can easily text you with any questions or concerns, and you can quickly reply with a solution. This can reduce the number of phone calls you receive and make it easier for patients to get in touch with you.

Cost saving way to reach more patients

Text messaging for healthcare is preferred by your patients and is more efficient and cost-effective for your practice.

A Forrester research report states that a phone conversation costs about $15.50 per interaction, whereas two-way text messaging costs $1-5.

So, if you’re looking for a more cost-effective way to communicate with your patients, Healthcare texting is the way to go.

Give a personal touch to your patient’s communication

Healthcare text messaging allows you to personalize your messages to each patient. You can send targeted messages relevant to each patient’s unique condition and situation. Patients appreciate the personal touch and are more likely to respond positively to your messages.

Get New Patients In Your Waiting Rooms

Setting up new appointments is no small task for your staff. It can be time-consuming and frustrating. Whether your clinic is a fee-for-service or you’re reimbursed for your services, you must have patients coming through your front doors.

Text marketing can automate your healthcare practice outreach. It has proven to convert potential patients better than a phone call.

According to the Marketing Charts study, the average conversion rate of SMS marketing is 29%. It means you have a good chance of filling your waiting room by texting potential patients.

50% Reduce in No-Shows

When a patient doesn’t show up for their appointment, it’s frustrating and costly for your practice. Not only does the clinic miss out on revenue from that patient, but another patient in need is deprived of an appointment.

According to a 2019 study published by the Kansas Journal of Medicine, one of the primary reasons for patients’ no-shows is forgetfulness. Patients are busy. They often forget they have an appointment scheduled amid the hustle and bustle of life.

Although patient no-shows are unfortunate, healthcare text messaging can help minimize the number of lost opportunities your practice experiences.

76% of people worldwide want text reminders of upcoming medical appointments. Healthcare providers have seen a 50% decrease in no-shows when text message appointment reminders are scheduled and sent out to patients.

Faster Appointment Booking

Busy patients often find it difficult to book appointments during traditional office hours. Healthcare text messaging allows them to easily book an appointment at a time that works for them – without ever having to pick up the phone.

What are the Risks associated with Healthcare Text Messaging?

Healthcare providers and their staff increasingly use text messaging as a communication tool.

However, there are risks associated with texting, including:

Confidentiality Breaches

Text messaging from a personal phone is not a secure communication form; unauthorized parties can intercept or access messages. This can lead to breaches of patient confidentiality and violation of HIPAA regulations.

Therefore, it is important to ensure that your service provider offers end-to-end encryption for all messages sent through their platform so that only the sender and receiver can read them.

Patients may find it easier to share private information using text messages than over the phone or in person with a provider.

However, if a patient were to send sensitive medical information via text message, it could be intercepted by another party and used inappropriately.

In addition, the patient may not realize that their own cell phone could be accessed by someone else and the information shared without permission.

Older generations may find it difficult to communicate

Not all patients are comfortable expressing their thoughts through this medium. While it’s understandable that some older patients may find it difficult to text, you should also keep in mind most younger generations find it more difficult to talk on the phone.

Overall, it’s important to note that text messaging can also be a valuable tool for healthcare communication when used appropriately.

Many providers use encrypted messaging platforms or the secure messaging feature of EHR platforms to mitigate some of these risks.

7 ways to use text messaging in your healthcare practice now

Text messaging is one of the fastest-growing forms of communication.

It’s also one of the most effective.

Text messages are opened and read within three minutes of being received. That’s more than 100 times faster than email and more than 20 times faster than social media.

If your healthcare practice isn’t using text messaging, it’s time to get on board. Here are six ways you can use text messaging in your practice today:

1. Send Appointment reminders

Doctors can send appointment reminders to patients via text messaging, helping to reduce no-shows and improve patient engagement.

For example, an appointment reminder message could be:

“Hi John, this is a reminder that your appointment with Dr Smith is scheduled for tomorrow at 2 PM. If you need to reschedule or have any questions, please call our office”.

2. Prescription refill reminders

A report shows that patient medication adherence levels drop throughout care, from 69% filling their first prescription to 43% continuing treatment as prescribed after six months.

That’s where prescription refill reminder text messages can help.

You can send text messages to remind patients when it’s time to refill their prescriptions, improving medication adherence.

For example, a prescription refill reminder message can be:

“Hi John, this is a reminder that your prescription for [medication name] is due to be refilled. Please reply “1” to refill or “2” to No.

perscription refill reminder

3. Send Lab results

Go beyond the office and virtual visits to take care of your patients with automated refill texts or other event reminders.

You can quickly send lab results to your patients via text messages, reducing anxiety and improving communication.

For example, a lab result message template could be:

“Hi John, your lab results are back, and everything looks normal. The doctor will discuss this with you in more detail during your follow-up appointment next week.”

lab results text image example

You can send patients surveys or questionnaires via text to gather patient feedback. This will help you improve your practice’s service.

For example,

“Hi John, we hope you had a great visit with Dr Smith. Could you please help us by providing your feedback? Please follow this link [insert a link to a survey] to write a review.”

survey texting example

5. Share Useful and Educational Content

Send patients educational materials via SMS, such as videos or links to articles, which can help them better understand their conditions and make more informed decisions about their care. By sending content over text, it’ll be easier for patients to revisit it in the future.

6. Telemedicine

Text messaging allows patients to communicate with their healthcare provider for non-urgent matters. This can help reduce in-person visits and save you and your patients time and money.

For example, you can send a health message to your patients like:

“Hi John, how are you feeling? Is there anything you need to discuss with the doctor today? We can schedule a virtual visit for you.”

telehealth example

7. Answer Patient Queries

Using two-way, conversational messaging, your patients can text you from their mobile devices to get quick answers to questions. It will save you both time, and you can respond to their questions even from your computer.

answer patient queries example

General Guidelines for Text messaging in Healthcare

Although patient text messaging can grow your practice, there are some guidelines you must follow.

  • The privacy of your patients should always be at the forefront of your mind when sending them messages. Use secure text messaging platforms to keep doctor-patient-staff communication confidential.
  • Not everyone loves texting, especially older patients. So be sure to give your patients a choice to indicate their preferred communication method (text, email, phone calls, etc.). Providing options to your patients can guarantee a positive and seamless patient experience.
  • Always get consent from your patients before sending them text messages. Failing to receive consent can violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and carry serious fines.
  • Primary care physicians must receive written consent before healthcare texting begins; verbal consent is not enough.

texting for healthcare

Wrapping it up

Text messaging is useful for healthcare marketing but should be used with caution. Healthcare providers should be aware of its risks and take steps to mitigate them.

However, with the right approach, text messaging can improve patient engagement, reduce no-shows, and grow your practice ten folds.

Furthermore, text messaging in healthcare will make your practice more efficient and keep patients happy. Texting also helps your office run more smoothly by automating tedious tasks with managing a practice.

You can quickly respond to patient requests, transfer the request to the appropriate person, schedule appointments, and send text reminders for upcoming appointments.

DemandHub is the leading customer experience and reputation management platform for healthcare providers with a mission to help local businesses and clinics grow by making it easier to communicate with patients.

With modern messaging technology, you can keep your healthcare practice organized and in touch by using messaging, web chat, and team chat — all on one platform. We want to help you build relationships, take control of your online reputation, and grow your practice today.

With DemandHub, you can quickly and easily send appointment reminders, confirmations, or even marketing messages to your patients — all while staying HIPAA compliant.

Book a free demo today to see how we can help grow your healthcare clinic 10X!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Text messaging in Healthcare

What are the benefits of using text messaging in healthcare?

Text messaging in healthcare offers various benefits. It provides efficient communication between healthcare providers and patients, including appointment reminders, health tips, and updates on treatment plans. It can also improve medication adherence, assist in managing chronic diseases, and streamline patient engagement and satisfaction.

What are the challenges of text messaging in healthcare?

While text messaging can improve healthcare communication, it also poses some challenges. These include maintaining patient privacy and confidentiality, ensuring messages are accurately understood by patients, and dealing with technical issues such as lost or delayed messages.

How does text messaging improve patient engagement?

Text messaging improves patient engagement by enabling timely and convenient communication. Patients can receive appointment reminders, medication prompts, and personalized health tips directly on their mobile phones. This instant communication can help patients feel more connected to their care providers and more proactive in managing their health.

What is the use of SMS in healthcare?

SMS in healthcare is used for various purposes, such as sending appointment reminders, providing health education, sending medication reminders, prescriptions refills, and even collecting patient data. It’s a simple and effective way to communicate with patients, improving both patient engagement and healthcare outcomes.

What is text messaging in health and social care?

Text messaging in health and social care involves using SMS to communicate between healthcare providers and patients. This can include appointment reminders, notifications about test results, health tips, and other information that can help improve the quality and efficiency of care.

What is secure text messaging in healthcare?

Secure text messaging in healthcare refers to the use of encrypted text messages to share sensitive health information. These messages are secure and comply with privacy laws, protecting both the patient and the healthcare provider from potential data breaches.

What is HIPAA compliant text messaging?

HIPAA compliant text messaging is a form of communication that meets the standards set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This means that any identifiable health information sent via text message must be encrypted and secure to protect patient privacy. Healthcare providers must also have procedures in place for access control, audit controls, person or entity authentication, and transmission security when using text messaging.

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