Text messaging has become an essential tool for businesses when it comes to engaging with customers. A Nielsen study showed, customers text twice as much as they call, and according to Statistic Brain the number of monthly texts sent increased more than 7,700% over the last decade—clearly making it the consumer channel of choice.
Providers and healthcare organizations can leverage SMS as a communications channel to keep patients more engaged, so they (patients) make better decisions and take better care of themselves—all while reducing costs.
Costs of Missed Appointments
Missed appointments cost the US healthcare system $150 billion. Cancelled appointments take the focus away from patient care and result in hours of staff time s
pent trying to fill empty appointment slots and calling patients. Continued no-shows and cancellations cause a back log and exponentially grow appointment waiting lists—making things inconvenient for patients.
By leveraging SMS, providers can automatically send appointment reminders to patients. Some providers rely heavily on email; but studies show that email only has a 20% open rate, compared to SMS that has a 98% open rate. This channel is much more efficient than voice and doesn’t strain staff resources. A Forrester study showed that voice can cost several dollars per interaction, whereas SMS costs just pennies to the dollar.
Along with a reminder, providers can include hyperlinks within SMS connecting patients to secure portals enabling them to reschedule if they need to.
Making the Appointment is Just Part of the Equation
Getting patients to show up is one thing, but keeping them engaged is another. SMS can also play a key role in helping patients manage their health and staying on track with their treatment plans. Reminders that include pre-appointment instructions such as reminding patients not to eat within 24 hours of the appointment could help keep patients prepared and positively impact patient health outcomes.
Keep Patients Out of the Hospital-Communication on Their Terms
SMS reminders can encourage medication adherence and outpatient treatment too. In fact, a study found that 98% of patients found SMS reminders easy to use and over 60% found them useful.
SMS interactions also give patients flexibility to interact with their providers through a channel they feel comfortable with, improving the patient-provider relationship and fostering patient loyalty. This channel-comfort also makes it more likely for patients to be proactive and seek regular preventative care treatment for chronic conditions, so they stay home and not in the hospital.