Mobile and SMS – A New Hope in Patient Engagement


We can all agree that mobile technology and consumer channels have made a strong footprint in healthcare. With the advent of patient portals through mobile or disposable apps, patients can easily check physician visit summaries and test results, view prescriptions and access personal data within a few clicks and swipes. Some providers enable patients to email physicians directly from the portal or even fill out forms. If we compare this technology to other consumer sectors including financial, travel and retail; healthcare has a way to go—but they are on the right path.

2017 was all about pushing the ideas and innovations of digital disruption into patient engagement, so 2018 should be the year of digital adoption in healthcare.

Providers can’t ignore the numbers – missed appointments cost US providers $150 billion a year. And, this is happening more and more due to lack of scheduling tools and the reliance on manual scheduling protocols. Even more daunting, each 60-minute open slot or no show can cost providers up to $200 and specialty appointments that require patients to adhere to a special diet prior to can have up to a 50% no-show rate in a given week! Unfortunately, there is no upside to missing an appointment because it could mean emergency room visits down the road.

But, there is hope. Enter mobile self-service patient engagement solutions. While having patient portals improves access to information and data, they still require patients to take initiative by logging in and navigating through different screens. By leveraging mobile channels, such as SMS, providers can deliver appointment reminders, and pre/post procedure instructions through channels that patients are already using in their everyday lives. Linking SMS to CRM and EHR enables patients to confirm, cancel and even reschedule their appointment all through the same channel of the original reminder. Attaching hyperlinks that contain procedural instructions helps patients stay on top off things and avoids any confusion before, during or after their appointment.

Financial, retail and travel organizations are using interactive text response and natural language understanding technology help patients interact with an auto-assistant over SMS, Messenger and chat. With these solutions, patients can ask questions and get help without straining live staff or creating bottlenecks in inbound flow; and implementing web chat into mobile patient portals enables patients to receive live assistance without calling in.

Want to learn more about how consumer technologies can help reduce no shows and improve patient provider communications? Check out our white paper here.