As healthcare continues the shift from volume to value, healthcare providers are expected to deliver a higher level of patient care with fewer resources. To accomplish more with less, it’s critical that healthcare teams find solutions that save time and allocate professionals to areas where they can focus the majority of their time on improving patient health. The thoughtful and strategic deployment of technology is one way to harness the latest innovations to efficiently deliver a higher level of care.
Meeting patients on familiar ground – texting on their mobile devices - offers a clear opportunity to improve efficiency and effectiveness. The following are three ways that healthcare organizations can save time, improve key operating metrics, and enhance outcomes—all while improving the patient experience.
Patient Preparation and Recovery
Highly skilled healthcare professionals generally spend a significant amount of time making phone calls and following up with patients to ensure they are prepared for their healthcare encounters; this is especially true for diagnostic and surgical procedures. If pre-admission testing is not completed in a timely manner or a patient eats or drinks after a specified time, for example, procedures may need to be delayed or canceled – a situation that not only impacts revenue but is also very frustrating to patients and their families.
Handling some of this important patient communication via text message can support interactions tailored to the patient’s procedure and can communicate education, instructions and alerts at precisely the right time. These messages can also invite patients to call in if they have any questions or need further information.
In addition to helping healthcare teams better prepare their patients, text messaging can also play a role in the patient’s recovery. Using texts to reinforce treatment plans, set recovery expectations over time, and prompt the patient to take important next steps can improve the overall recovery process and reduce avoidable complications. Text messages provide patients with targeted information in a format that is easily accessible and available for future reference.
Text messaging is a cost-effective communication approach that frees up time for phone calls to those patients who require “high touch” communication where more complex and nuanced information can be shared.
Population Health Management
As healthcare providers implement population health management strategies, one of the key challenges they face is reaching and engaging members of their target populations in a cost efficient and effective way. Given the socioeconomic and demographic differences among members of these populations, it is important to deploy several different communication approaches. One approach that has proven to be effective across socioeconomic boundaries – age, gender, location, or demographic - is text messaging.
Healthcare teams can use text messaging to send alerts to remind patients to schedule preventive screenings such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and well-child visits. A text-first approach that combines text messaging with a link to a secure mobile site that allows the patient to update their health status can be very effective in the management of chronic conditions such as CHF, COPD, and diabetes. The opportunities to cost-effectively supplement and extend population health management activities using this channel are endless.
While patient satisfaction has always been a consideration, the rise of patient consumerism coupled with the trend of reimbursement becoming linked to patient satisfaction is moving this topic to the top of the strategic agenda.
The goal of any patient satisfaction survey is to gain true insight into the patient experience. Doing this requires the ability to easily and quickly customize surveys, target them to specific patient populations and obtain response rates such that meaningful conclusions can be drawn. Deploying text message surveys and text-first surveys (where a link is provided that takes the patient to a responsive mobile web survey) is a cost-effective approach to obtaining these coveted patient insights.
Surveys can be automatically triggered after the healthcare encounter while the experience is fresh on the patient’s mind. Patients indicating dissatisfaction present a service recovery opportunity – contacting them to show concern and learn more about their experience will not only inform systemic improvement opportunities but also will likely change the patient’s impression of the organization.
Mobile and text messaging surveys should be part of any patient satisfaction measurement strategy.
Using mobile devices and text messaging doesn't just reach patients more easily, it enables healthcare professionals to better focus and improve the effectiveness of their efforts. Weaving digital communication into patient communication and engagement strategies drives savings of time, money and resources – all precious commodities in today’s healthcare environment.