January 22, 2015
3 Reasons Your Practice Needs SMS
As published by Nielsen Mobile, “the typical U.S. mobile subscriber sends and receives more SMS text messages than telephone calls.” This may not come as a surprise. However, the fact that this has been the case since 2008 might. So why haven’t service oriented companies adopted this communication channel to deliver a more delightful experience for their customers? And why are you reading about this on a blog from a healthcare technology company?
One reason is that the consumerization of healthcare is among us. As mentioned in a report from Booz & Co., now more than ever patients are behaving like healthcare consumers, and those entities that are able to “develop strategies and market offerings that fulfill their needs and preferences and fully engage them in an end-to-end customer experience” are going to be the most successful. So where does text messaging fit in to all of this?
First, medical practices and hospitals should understand that texting is a very intimate activity. People are used to texting their friends, family, and co-workers. The idea of texting a business or entity is still a new concept, which means that these conversations should be handled with care. The good news is that those that honor the intimacy of this channel will benefit from the inherent trust that comes along with it.
Second, text messaging allows for convenient self-service. Texting a keyword such as ‘appointment’ to the same number that a patient is used to calling can result in an automated response with a patient’s upcoming appointment information. What’s more, identity verification can be included to ensure compliance with privacy and security guidelines (HIPAA). For example, the patient may have to respond with a specific piece of information (e.g. date of birth) before the appointment information is sent.
Finally, by allowing a patient to text their care team and have the staff reply via web chat (text-to-chat), both parties end up benefiting from texting. The patient gets to use his or her preferred communication channel (sms), while the staff gets to reply with the convenience of a web-chat client. That means that the staff is more productive (the asynchronous nature of text-to-chat reduces the need for voicemail and phone tag), and the practice or hospital saves money.
In the end, text messaging is a great way to increase patient satisfaction and make your hospital or practice more profitable.
To learn more about Americans’ preference for text support, download the report here.
Photo by NEC Corporation of America.
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