Texting has changed communication in every industry, including healthcare. As with any shift, there are ways to adapt to make the transition easier for everyone involved—in healthcare that includes everyone from the patient and physician to the insurers and medical office staff.
As a woman living with multiple autoimmune conditions and chronic illnesses, I have found that texting lets me provide my doctors with clear information in a timely manner. This, in turn, enhances my patient experience. Most doctors and medical centers have adopted a system that can text patients to remember upcoming appointments and remind them to refill a prescription. But I hope that healthcare providers and systems will begin to recognize that text messaging and using technology to engage with patients can be effective for providers and empowering for patients.
Let's explore the power of positive texting.
Improving communication can be so more than automated reminders (which are becoming the norm). With so many people embracing technology to assist them in scheduling work appointments and conference calls, I believe that, if given the opportunity, established patients would send questions and concerns to their providers via text messages before and in between appointments.
If patients are willing and the provider offers truly coordinated care, patients could text more than simple questions before an appointment. I hope that if a patient wanted to submit a photo to add to their medical record that they will be able to do just that. In my experience, if I were able to share pictures via texting of my swollen joints to my rheumatologist (or a rash to a dermatologist or whatever it may be) and it became part of my electronic medical record, I would be able to receive better care. There are tool available that making getting HIPAA consent for messages like this quick and easy.
After a new patient makes the first appointment, if a provider offered the option to fill out the new patient information prior to the appointment online, I believe that alone would improve the patient experience—before they even walk into the waiting room. I know that a few providers offer that opportunity for new patients, but it is not yet widely available. The new patient information gathering process could be streamlined in an easy, yet groundbreaking, way. Even the ability to print a blank form and complete it at home to bring to the appointment would be better than the current method of collecting new patient information.
I recently went to a new doctor and had to fill out eight pages of information, from insurance numbers and billing address to family medical background, while in the waiting room. Eight pages! With my extensive medical history, I was completing the form for more than 15 minutes. As a woman who has spent my share of time completing pages of paperwork in a waiting room, there needs to be a solution to save this time for both the patient and providers. Considering how much the healthcare industry is looking for ways to save time and money, what a simple fix this could be.
The use of patient texting is a powerful and positive way for providers to easily improve the patient experience. Sometimes a person can be overwhelmed by the information given to them during an appointment. Just imagine if a simple question sent by text could help them understand how and when to take their prescription. The potential benefits from exploring the positive ways texting technology could empower the entire healthcare community.
For more information on texting your patient, download our free guide.