Opportunity to Improve Provider to Patient Communication with Text Messaging

Posted by Ken Saitow, CEO, CareWire

Today’s health care providers are being challenged to “do more with less”. This includes not only reaching more patients, but also more effectively engaging them in their care. Traditional communication channels such as telephone calls, emails and voice mails are becoming less and less effective. Patient portals and apps are not gaining traction with the vast majority of patients. So, what is the solution? Text messaging – one of the most widely used forms of technology – represents a powerful alternative and one that has not been fully capitalized health care organizations.

Traditional communication channels are falling out of consumer favor

Traditional communication channels are falling out of favor by health care consumers and are not optimal for time sensitive interactions. Year over year, voicemail volumes have dropped by 8% and retrieval rates have plummeted by 14%. More and more, personal and corporate voicemails warn callers that they are better off sending emails or texts.

Email is also becoming more and more ineffective year after year. Message opening rates are set at only 22% with a 2.5 day user response time, if any at all. To put this into perspective, a typical individual receives 1,216 emails each month- 90% of which are spam.

New and emerging channels like portals and native apps are struggling to become adopted

Emerging channels are also struggling for traction. Portal adoption across all demographics averages at about 24.4%. Furthermore, 66% of US hospitals had zero patients attempt access their portal. Native mobile apps have not had any more success; with over 165,000 mHealth apps now available to consumers only a total of 36 apps account for nearly half of all downloads and 40% of all apps have fewer than 5,000 downloads.

Providers need to communicate with patients in a timely, scalable and cost-effect way. Requiring a patient to adopt a new channel they do not already use in their daily lives can create barriers for adoption.

Text messaging is the most widely adopted mobile feature

Texting is the most used feature across all mobile phone activity. Texting provides the lowest barrier of entry for providers to automate direct and secure messaging with their patients.

In a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center, SMS received better survey responses and reactions compared to traditional survey methods. Higher quality feedback and quicker responses when surveys were distributed over mobile devices as compared to actual phone calls. Surveys were also 38% more likely to be completed within 10 minutes on a mobile device than on the traditional web.

The possibilities are endless when implementing provider to patient communications through email. Some of the focus areas that providers use the platform for are:

  • Population health alerts, instructions, and education
  • Patient preparation and recovery alerts, instructions, education, and feedback
  • Patient satisfaction, alerts and feedback, medication adherence alerts, instructions, and education

There are many myths about texting and health care that are preventing widespread adoption of this type of channel.

Here are some of the myths that are false that you should know about:

–       Myth 1: Patients over 65 do not text. False. Our data indicates that, while mobile phone usage by this demographic is less (45% vs 80%), the level of engagement is the same or slightly better than the broader population.

–       Myth 2: Patients that fall into a lower socio-economic status do not own cell phones and don’t text. False. Pew Research Center statistics indicate that households making less than $30,000 per year text twice as much as those making over $75,000 per year.

–       Myth 3: Texting is not effective because you cannot include protected health information. False. While it is true that SMS is an insecure channel, there is much that can be accomplished by relying on the patient’s context regarding their health status. Embedded links can be added to the text message that direct the patient to a secure channel as well.

–       Myth 4: When given the choice, patients opt out of the receiving messages. False. When sending messages, you must provide a clear way for the patient to discontinue messages. Our data indicates that less than 8% of a given population opt out after experiencing the text interactions.

The simplicity, immediacy and ubiquity of texting coupled with the ability to use links to the mobile web as an on-ramp to a richer experience can boost health care provider efficiency and effectiveness, enhance the patient experience and, best of all, improve outcomes. The use of such programs can help providers reach a wide range of patients in less than half the time while also achieving cost-effectiveness along the way.


About CareWire

CareWire – a text-first mobile patient engagement platform – takes advantage of the immediacy and simplicity of text messaging to communicate personalized, precisely timed, service specific education, instructions and alerts – before, throughout, and after care. CareWire blends SMS text, secure messaging and web applications to support our customer’s population health, patient preparation and recovery and patient satisfaction initiatives. The CareWire platform lowers costs, improves patient adherence and enhances the overall patient experience.

CareWire is much more than a messaging provider. We partner with our customers to develop messaging campaigns that are tailored to meet their unique business objectives. We leverage the insights gleaned from millions of consumer interactions to inform our design – from message content to delivery sequence and timing – and reliably deliver results. Click here to request additional information and a demonstration: http://carewireinc.com/.


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