The Pew Research Center reports that modern consumers reject more phone calls than they accept, making it difficult for many businesses to maintain contact with their clientele. It is not surprising that text messaging for business has become popular.
Text messaging gives medical practices a competitive edge. It provides patients with an extra, more practical way to stay in touch with your office. In fact, 63% of consumers claim they would switch to a business that allows text messaging as a form of communication.
However, sending texts to patients is more complicated than sending texts to friends and family. Its best to adhere to some best practices in order to maximize patient satisfaction and maintain a smooth office workflow.
Best practices for using text messaging in your practice
Understanding the rules is the first step.
Various laws may apply when using text messaging to communicate with your patients. Always get your patients express permission before texting them. However, it is considered sufficient consent to begin texting with a patient to answer questions or remind them of appointments when they provide you with their phone number, as in the case of appointment scheduling or intake forms, for example.
Patients can choose at any time not to receive any more texts from practices. PatientPop allows patients to unsubscribe from texts by replying with a single word when automated texts contain an opt-out keyword.
The best course of action is to avoid sending protected health information (PHI) via text because text messages are not encrypted. However, text messaging can be compliant with HIPAA if you inform your patients of the dangers of sending PHI over an unsecured channel and they have given their consent to receive such texts.
You do need to obtain written consent if you plan to use text messaging to send marketing messages promoting new services or delivering special offers.
Without it, you run the risk of breaking the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and paying hefty fines (TCPA). PatientPop advises seeking legal advice for clarification on these evolving regulations.
Pick the best text messaging service.
Businesses can use a variety of applications to send text messages to their customers, but picking the incorrect platform can cause problems for both patients and staff. Use a HIPAA-compliant tool to prevent patient privacy violations. Next, pick a tool that organizes and records your text messages. This reduces the possibility of message loss and makes it much simpler for staff to respond to patients.
Look for text messaging services that can offer patients newer features like the capacity to text from your website or make phone calls. This increases the opportunity to schedule more appointments by increasing both current and potential patients access to your practice.
Develop a strategy for your practice.
You can use text messaging for a variety of things, but its crucial to plan how your practice will use it as part of its communications strategy. Consider carefully which applications to use in order to avoid sending too many messages to your patients.
Scheduling appointments, interacting with the medical professional or care team, sending automated appointment reminders, and informing patients of their bill are some of the more common uses. Start small and develop your teams confidence and workflows if youre worried about message volume. From there, you can further elaborate.
Obtain consent from the patients.
Asking your patients if its okay to text them is a good idea regardless of any legal requirements. Getting permission is a best practice regardless of what the rules say because some people may view unsolicited texting as an invasion of their privacy. Be upfront and clear with patients about your plans to use text messaging, and make sure to emphasize any advantages it will have for them (i.e., saving time, eliminating phone tag, and delivering helpful reminders).
Create a procedure to deal with incoming messages.
Consider the different message types you anticipate receiving, such as appointment requests, provider questions, or billing inquiries. After that, establish a workflow for managing the office inbox to make sure every message receives a response and assign a point person to respond to each.
The expectation you set with patients who are awaiting those responses is equally crucial. Within your practice, establish response goals that you will later communicate to patients as part of your initial (sometimes automated) response. An illustration would be, Weve received your request for an appointment and will respond to you by the following business day. Keep track of your performance over time, and if response times start to rise, strive for continuous improvement.
Prior to going live with a comprehensive text messaging strategy, come up with a list of the most frequent queries and communications you anticipate receiving. Create standardized responses that you can use as new texts arrive. Just be sure to add your own personality to your messages to avoid them sounding too impersonal. Furthermore, be ready to adjust your procedure as time passes and you get used to your new workflow. Change, like any new technology, isnt always simple but it can undoubtedly be advantageous in the long run.