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The art of medicine in the digital world has become much trendier, but trickier.
For every innovation like the ability for providers to quickly learn everything about a patient’s medical history rather than digging through old files, there are complex rules – and penalties -- about how this info can be used.
For every site that helps consumers learn more about their own health conditions, there are other sites that offer conflicting, inaccurate, even dangerous explanations.
But in order to keep up with the competition and also patient demand for quick, immediate and personal responses, the modern health care provider needs to learn this new technology, whether it’s an interactive site, email services, or an after-hours call center.
One area that medical practices can consider is a mass text service. It can be an easy way to communicate info and also make it convenient for patients who are attached to their phones.
Some in the industry say that mass SMS will take too much time, and is an effort that’s not billable, so unnecessary. However, mass texts can keep your staff from having to text patients all day long, especially if they can schedule automated messages. For instance, patients can receive a pre-written message if they trigger a certain action, like being overdue for an annual physical.
Consider these types of messages:
- Appointment confirmation. Voice messages aren’t always listened to, and those little cards in the mail tend to disappear. But sending a text may be an excellent reminder, and also a permanent note, provided someone doesn’t delete their text history all that often. If it’s a busy office with multiple appointments to send out, perhaps the staff can send the same text out at the beginning of the week to anyone with an upcoming appointment.
- Regular visit reminders. If patients have certain scheduled procedures, like a physical each summer, a sports physical before school starts, or a flu shot in the fall, they can receive notices to come in for them. The note could include a link to a ‘book appointment’ page on the provider’s site, or for a landing page about a particular procedure.
- Emergency notifications. If there’s a need to get the word out quickly about a local problem or epidemic, texting can take care of this task in a hurry with an alert. The text can include the basic message – “lice in the local school, come in for a check,” and then a link to a page for more info. A local community may send out their own public health alerts, but what’s coming from one’s doctor may carry a little more weight, or patients may appreciate the redundancy.
- Upcoming events. If the provider offers useful community clinics, such as skin screening, sports physicals, flu shots, vision checks or other mass events, a mass text is a fine way to spread the word. Depending on how the databases are configured, the message can even appear personalized, which may make it more effective. “Bob Smith, if you need a flu shot this year, come down on Saturday, or click here to make an appointment this month.”
- Birthday greetings. This extra beside manner isn’t required to be an effective provider, but patients might like a friendly note on their birthday. It saves postage, doesn’t take much time from the day, and may increase loyalty.
- Explanations about current “scary” health topics. Even if an epidemic isn’t appearing locally, patients could be still be curious or concerned about frightening information that may be happening in other parts of the country or the world. A provider can send out trusted links and tell people precautions to take or that things aren’t as bad as they’re reading or hearing in the news. A short text message from him or her can also be reassuring --“bird flu is affecting a small group of rural farmers in China, but click here to learn more about it and why there’s little risk here.”
Once you and your staff get creative, there are plenty of possibilities of items that can be texted out to mass audiences. You wouldn’t want to send out “here are your test results" in a mass SMS since this should be a personal notification that merits a phone call. You also need to adhere by HIPAA guidelines as far as disclosing specific information, and you also don’t to take a lot of your staff’s time texting rather than helping patients. Interestingly, a mass text with general info for all patients may provide more freedom for a doctor, rather than worrying about what to say in texts to individual patients. For more suggestions to make mass texts work for your practice visit Trumpia.com.