The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred clinicians and healthcare agencies across the nation to make technology changes in order to see and treat patients safely. It has also changed patient communications. Telehealth and contactless patient experience have become more commonplace and texting has also become an increased part of patient communications. COVID-19 has increased the need to relay clinic visitation policies and other important updates and texting is helping to get that information to patients in a way that is easier for both patients and healthcare staff.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, phone calls as the primary method of patient communications were already on the way out. Only 18 percent of people said they listened to voicemails from a number they did not know. Millennials, in particular, prefer texting over voice, with 76% finding texting more convenient and a better fit for their schedules. For both staff and patients, text messages can be viewed when convenient. Texts can also be sent out as automated messages, making it easier for healthcare staff to communicate with a lot of patients at once.
COVID-19 has accelerated a preference in texting for patient communications for both patients and healthcare staff. Texting is more convenient when patients are already so inundated with updates about COVID-19 and healthcare staff are already stretched so thin. As with telehealth and contactless patient experience, technology changes in healthcare are being made throughout this pandemic that are likely to shape the landscape of healthcare forever. These new technologies are helping make care more accessible and streamlining processes for healthcare staff so that they can focus on patient care.
To use texts across the entire patient communication experience, consider the following:
- Automated appointment reminders and instructions
- Pre-screening questions
- Self check-in and digital intake through link to patient portal links
- Patient follow-up questions
- Changes in clinic hours or emergency policies
- Surveys and reviews
- Automated recall for scheduling appointments
There are a lot of ways to use text messaging to connect with patients and add to the patient communications experience effectively. Give your patients the convenience of texts while also providing a better patient experience for them by helping them stay in touch, be prepared, get questions answered, and access the care they need all via text message. Give your staff the convenience of text messaging also with an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system that can send out automated texts for your staff members, sync as part of your telehealth visits, and work with your contactless patient experience portals. When your EHR can handle all of these tasks seamlessly, you reduce administrative work in the long term by not having to double enter patient data into multiple tools or applications in order to serve patients in these new ways.