The Marchex Blog

Texting in Healthcare Best Practices

Companies that use text messaging in their marketing mix often experience higher customer engagement than those who neglect it. In fact, text messaging boasts a 98% open rate, which is a massive increase from an email’s mere 20% average. Going further, businesses that use text messaging on average see a response rate of 45%–eight times higher than the 6% rate generated by email. This widely preferred communication tool is versatile and can be used in several ways in the healthcare industry. To ensure your health organization gets the most out of text messaging while staying compliant, be sure to follow best practices: capture consent, efficient scheduling, automated reminders, and minimize disclosure risk.  

Capture Consent 

Patients should always be given a chance to opt into text messaging, and organizations should document their consent to receive texts. Capturing consent via text messaging can be done in a few different ways. First, contact forms on an organization’s website can be configured to provide patients with an opportunity to give their consent to receive texts. A patient’s intake documentation can also include a clause asking their consent for your organization to send them texts.  

Scheduling & Reminders 

Offering website entry to schedule appointments via text can often reduce high call volumes, hold times and staffing issues. Scheduling appointments via text is more efficient; it often takes less than 3 minutes compared to a typical phone call, which on average can take between 8-10 minutes. The flexibility of text also allows for multiple agent text conversations at the same time. Appointment reminders are a critical part of a patient journey to care. Reminders sent two to three days in advance of a scheduled appointment can reduce the no show rate by as much as 50%. 

Minimize Disclosure Risk 

It is best to avoid including or requesting any protected health information (PHI) in a text message exchange, so providers should design their patient communication strategy to avoid requesting or sending private health information over text. If such information must be exchanged via SMS, you should obtain advance written consent from patients that acknowledge the risks associated with the transmission of private health information over text.  

Schedule an Appointment 

Text messaging is one of the most useful parts of the marketing toolkit. Businesses that utilize it safely and efficiently can enjoy significantly higher customer engagement rates. In the healthcare space, be sure to recognize and reduce the risk of exposing PHI over text. Always follow best practices to ensure that your patients’ data is safe when you take advantage of this flexible and lucrative channel. Talk with one of our experts to learn more.