A guest blog from James Legan, MD
As an independent provider and practicing internist, I have to manage my practice as efficiently as possible. While I share office space with seven other providers, with common overhead and in-house billing, we each run our own practices.I have a tech-savvy patient base and approximately 70 percent of my patients using a portal to access their records, submit questions and receive messages. I know how common texting is for most of us in our everyday lives. It’s an easy technology and it made sense to use it in my practice for patient engagement.
The best thing is that most patients are already texting in their own lives so they are already comfortable using it. Before they leave the office, we send them a secure text and have them enter my name in their contact list.
One of the pushbacks I hear from other providers about texting is that they think it will take too much time. But, when you think about it, it’s quicker than making a phone call. Plus, people are used to short, quick answers via text so you can get right to the point and move on. It’s worked out great for our practice and patients love it. It’s very easy to use. With text viewable on mobile phones, they get the message notification and read it almost immediately – from wherever they are. There no special app they need or log-in credential to remember. It’s very convenient.
We recently had a patient who was at a radiology clinic to get a CAT scan. The clinic needed additional paperwork before they would begin the test. With Updox Secure Text, the patient was able to text our office and we sent the paperwork over. Case closed in just a few minutes. Without text, the patient would have had to call the office, perhaps leave a voicemail. There might have been a delay until the voicemail was heard and then another wait for the paperwork to be sent. She might even have had to reschedule her appointment. This turned into a win-win for us and, as anyone in healthcare knows, happy patients make for happy providers.
Our office has also created Secure Text templates so we can easily, through the Updox inbox, send a quick text. Our templates include options for appointment thank you, summary visits, mammogram reports, pap results, labs, vaccine clinic reminders and how to reply to a text. That alone has made Secure Text even more efficient for our office.
Some providers might feel that text is less personal but it’s the exact opposite. New engagement tools, like text, are the way patient and physician communication is headed. Text is already how many of us communicate with our friends and families so it’s an easy, convenient, cost-effective way to engage patients in their care. Plus, the secure text feature adds a new, even more efficient way to communicate with patients without leaving voice mails and waiting for return calls.
If you aren’t securely texting your patients, how much time you and your staff are spending leaving messages, listening to voice mails and returning those calls? How much does that time cost your business? What if you could simply text a message and connect with your patient as fast as that? What would that save you? Something to consider.
Of course, true patient engagement is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s a strategy and a service. Patient want options and have their preferences respected. Updox Secure Text is one additional, easy way to connect with patients and partner with them in their care. I wish I had started Secure Texting years ago. It’s by far easier than the patient portal and patients love it.
James Legan, MD
Follow me on Twitter at @Jimmie_vanagon