Texting is the new wave of patient communication. Your patients love to text. One study showed U.S. smartphone users are sending and receiving five times as many texts as phone calls each day.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion about texting and HIPPA compliance on the part of medical providers and their office staff members. If a patient texts a question, how should you respond? If they want to send a picture of their insurance card or symptoms over the phone, is that legal? What information is okay to send via text, and what isn’t? Texting the wrong information from the wrong source can get you and your practice in trouble.
You can take the confusion and concern out of texting with your patients by contracting with a two-way texting service. These services offer secure texting on smartphones, tablets, and desktops that lets you communicate patient information in a HIPPA-compliant manner.
Some of the benefits of two-way texting include:
Allowing patients to reach you quickly
If they want to send insurance information, pictures or set up an emergency appointment, two-way texting services let patients send a text to your office phone. The message is delivered to your front desk computer where a chat session can be conducted with the patient. Now that’s customer service.
Avoiding tedious voicemails and call backs
Your office staff is too busy to spend time calling each patient and leaving voicemails. And when they call in, patients hate being put on hold. Two-way texting maximizes your office staff’s time in a way that keeps everyone happy.
Sending billing information
Texts can be used to notify patients when a bill has been mailed to their home or is available for payment online. The message can include a URL that directs patients to your website or an invitation to reach out and discuss the account. This helps you resolve outstanding balances quickly and conveniently.
Coordinating patient care and scheduling
In a study by Consumer Health Information Corporation, 41 percent of respondents chose text messaging as their preferred means of receiving a reminder from a health care provider. A phone call was preferred by only 1.3 percent of patients. When patients receive a text message from your office they can confirm the appointment with a simple reply. Advanced warning of missed appointments allows a provider to fill that opening with another patient. It is also a convenient way to remind patients it’s time to schedule a regular exam.
These tasks can be set-up so personalized texts are sent at the date and time you choose, saving time and money.
Finding ways to better serve your patients
Two-way texting can also be used to track your practice’s performance over time. Quick, one-question text surveys asking “Were you satisfied with your appointment today?” and asking for a “YES/NO” response can be valuable for helping you identify patient problems and areas for improvement.
Contracting with a two-way texting service is a great way to close the communication gap, streamline tasks and keep chairs full. Look for one that can be used with your current phone system and that lets patients send texts to your office phone number to provide the best customer service, with minimal disruption to your office staff. You’ll be meeting patient needs in the way they prefer with confidence you’re not compromising their privacy.
Interested in two-way texting? Learn more about Banyan’s solution, Screen Pop.