TEXT MESSAGING CAN HELP DECREASE HEALTHCARE COSTS AND IMPROVE OUTCOMES
Due to the continuous changes in the health care industry, health care providers are constantly tasked with finding ways to reduce costs while at the same time providing higher quality care and improving outcomes. Health organizations are constantly searching for ways to provide exceptional value that is more effective and capable of reaching more individuals without wasting resources, dollars, and time. Innovation is one of the keys to success in this dynamic environment. The most cutting-edge health professionals recognize that technology must play a critical role in doing better with less and text messaging is a solution that should be considered. Here are five ways health care organizations can reduce costs and improve efficiencies by incorporating texting into their patient engagement and communication strategies.
1. Save Your Employees' Time
Time is one of the most valuable resources that is constantly in short supply – especially within health care. By using text messaging to reach a subset of patients, health care professionals no longer have to spend time calling individuals to remind them about prescription instructions or following up with patients for additional information. Instead, these resources can be redirected to areas that are more aligned with their skills and training. Text messaging allows health care providers to focus on strategic patient communication and engagement that can move the needle on important issues, such as lowering readmissions. When it comes to patient education, text messages can also play an integral role. In an era of preventative medicine, it’s absolutely essential that patients are educated on how to live a healthier life in order to reduce the likelihood of chronic illnesses. Through text messaging, health care providers can interact with their patients on a regular and consistent basis.
2. Supplement Patient Preparation and Discharge Follow Up
Text messaging is a cost-effective method for health care teams to handle discharge follow up. Rather than attempt to call all of their patients – a challenge for care teams who are already stretched very thin – a subset of patients can be reached via text messaging and provided a phone number to call if they have any questions. This frees up time for phone calls to those patients who require “high touch” communication where more complex and nuanced information can be shared. Texting is also an easy way to help patients prepare for an upcoming surgery. If a patient arrives to a surgery unprepared, this not only can put the patient at risk but also waste valuable time and resources. Handling these communications via text message supports interactions tailored to the patients procedure and invites patients to call in if they have any questions or need further information.
3. Delivery of Advanced Assessments
Text messaging can help patients take assessments that are designed to play a role in preventative medicine, which saves health care providers time and money in the long term. By delivering a link that leads to a secure SF-36 or SF-12 (surveys that allow providers to understand how a patient’s health is progressing), for example, patients can fill out the requested information and provide important insights into the patient’s health status prior to their visit making the time they do spend with the patient that much more productive.
4. Focus on Better Communication
Text messaging can help health care providers within an organization better communicate with each patient. While patients place a high value on the way health care staff communicates with them—as well as the length of time spent doing so—due to time constraints, it can be difficult for providers to meet their expectations. Text messaging, however, is an ideal way of communicating outside of the exam room. It effectively connects with each patient on a personal level which results in an improved, more satisfying relationship.
5. Avoid Readmissions and Monitor Satisfaction
Using text messaging to reinforce treatment plan instructions, follow up on specific next steps (e.g., filling prescriptions, scheduling follow up visits), and provide a phone number to call if they have any questions can help reduce or prevent costly readmissions. Monitoring the satisfaction of patients and quickly responding to concerns is another area where text messaging has a role to play. Sending a simple satisfaction survey by text or sending a link to a more in-depth mobile survey immediately following an encounter can provide timely feedback and allow health care providers to address concerns that may otherwise show up weeks or months later through traditional satisfaction instruments. The importance of doing this well will only increase as the trend toward tying reimbursement to patient satisfaction gains traction.
CareWire blends SMS text, secure messaging, and web applications to support our customer’s population health, patient preparation and recovery and patient satisfaction initiatives. The CareWire platform lowers costs, improves patient adherence, and enhances the overall patient experience.
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