There are a multitude of factors to consider when composing text message reminders to patients, and despite the technology commonly being used as a casual practice, it is important to maintain a level of professionalism when texting. You should also keep in mind that you are dealing with sensitive patient information, and so it is important that you continue to develop secure business processes. To guide you in executing high-level etiquette within text communications, we have compiled some top tips:
- Establish text policies - It is good practice to develop policies pertaining to text messages used to ensure consistency, and that all staff members and patients are on the same page. There should be a clear outline of who is authorized to send and receive text messages, as well as how messages are included in electronic health records. You should also implement regular checks to verify the patient’s mobile number is up-to-date and accurate.
- Be concise - You need to ensure that your messages are to the point, and contain relevant and factual information that can be easily understood by patients. We all have busy lives, and patients don’t want to spend time deciphering what you’re trying to say. Patients need to be able to skim read, and gather the gist of the text message. Sensitive and detailed information must be sent elsewhere, and not over text where it may be less secure.
- Document the text messages - All text messages should be noted in the medical record, as it is a point of communication that relates to the patient’s health. They also need to be noted to ensure they can be referred to when necessary, especially in the case of compliance issues, where you must provide evidence that a patient has violated particular guidelines or standards.
- Have review guidelines - It is important to audit the messages being sent to ensure that they are clear, and make sense to all patients. It is important that this is conducted by multiple members of your healthcare workplace to ensure a more robust system that can efficiently review and approve messages. Software for healthcare teams can aid you in this process, by providing automated messaging systems that are continually regulated and stored within HIPAA compliant servers, significantly improving the review process.
The bottom line
Text messages are convenient, commonplace, and a great way to communicate with the people we care about. Because of their easy-to-use software, and the fact that most of us use mobiles consistently throughout the day, text messaging is a great avenue for healthcare practices to incorporate into their services to increase patient engagement. When formulated correctly, in a way that is both professional and HIPAA compliant, you can elevate the quality of your service by improving patient communication, as well as clinical outcomes. To reduce no-shows, and build and strengthen patient relationships, consider incorporating text messages into your services today!