By Fonda Narke
Text messaging isn’t just for the under-65 crowd anymore. Baby boomers (soon to become the Medicare population) are text-messaging fanatics. And older Americans already on Medicare are embracing cell phones at an increasing rate. In fact, Deloitte predicts that people 55 and over will be the fastest growing segment of smart phone adoption.
The End of the “Patient” Patient
Now, consider the fact that the healthcare industry is facing change — lots of it. One of the most notable changes is that healthcare is transitioning to a consumer-driven industry. The days of the “patient” patient—the patient who sits patiently for an hour in the waiting room — are in the past.
Healthcare consumers want the same conveniences other industries offer them. They can get their banking done at their convenience at an ATM. They can sign up for text message alerts when their credit card company receives charges on their account. They can contact nearly all major service providers using their channel of choice (whether it’s a call, text, chat or email).
The services available to consumers from other industries put pressure on healthcare organizations to up their game — and text messaging is an important strategy for doing that.
The time is right for healthcare organizations to embrace consumerism and to implement text-messaging strategies. This will benefit the industry in many ways:
- First, it will help keep pace with the demands of consumers, communicating with them in their channel of choice and at their convenience.
- Second, it will drive operational efficiency.
- Third, and most importantly, text messaging will drive patient engagement, which results in better health outcomes.
The key to realizing these benefits is to use the right mix of technology and clinical personnel, using text messaging to maximize efficiency while maintaining meaningful interactions with patients.
But What about HIPAA?
Naturally, many organizations worry about the HIPAA implications of engaging patients with text messaging. With a solid strategy in place, there’s no need to worry. In my next blog post, I’ll explain why, and I’ll outline how an effective text-messaging strategy addresses consent and protects patient health information.
In the meantime, if you have questions about texting with patients or if you would like to compare notes on strategy, comment below or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fonda Narke is Director of Product Integration, West Corporation Healthcare Practice