Proactive Care Outreach with SMS Messaging

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the method of communicating with patients has started to shift more and more away from phone calls and voicemails. Texting or short messaging service (SMS) is now one of the most popular communication methods for connecting with patients.

A 2021 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons evaluated the utility of text messages to communicate with patients. They found:

  1. Patient engagement rates with texts averaged 90%
  2. 98.2% of surveyed patients liked the text messages
  3. 95.5% of surveyed patients said they felt more connected to the care team
  4. 91.9% of surveyed patients agreed text updates helped them avoid calling

Since then, other subsequent studies have shown the highly effective value of providers, payers and care managers using text messaging as an efficient way to communicate with patients. The pandemic may have inspired a surge in appreciating texts, but the immediate interaction and distribution of information has enabled them to stay and become a desired primary communication method for patients across generations.

Texting Enables Faster Distribution of Critical Information

SMS messages are typically short, concise, and easy for recipients to understand. For healthcare organizations seeking to improve member engagement and bridge communication gaps between providers and members, or payers and members, SMS messages are key.

Texts are more effective at reaching patients than emails.

SMS messages average a 98 percent open rate. Emails only average at 20 percent. Moreover, the average person takes less than 2 minute to respond to a text versus 90 minutes for emails. 

For care managers who need to work with a high volume of patients, SMS offers an expedient and accurate way to connect, share information, and check-in following provider appointments. SMS also allows care managers to distribute critical and helpful health information faster.

Healthcare Texting for Care Managers

Texting as a health intervention technique is common. And with nearly 97 percent of all Americans owning a cell phone of some kind, the opportunities to connect are immense.

Looking at recent data from the PEW research center, we know care managers, providers and payers can easily access patients from ages 18 to 65+, enabling numerous opportunities to provide personalized care quickly and effectively.

This also indicates that for patients who may not have transportation or face other health-related social needs, text messaging, and virtual care may help enable greater access to health care, close health equity gaps and solve some social determinants of health (SDOH) issues (like health literacy).

Americans with cellphones and smartphones by age

Age Has Cellphone Has Smartphone
18-29 years 100% 96%
30-49 years 100% 95%
50-64 years 97% 83%
65+ years 92% 61%

Source: PEW Research Center, Mobile Fact Sheet

Care Managers Can Leverage Texting for The Following Healthcare Uses:

  1. Connect with patients to set up a time to discuss complicated health information.
  2. Invite patients to virtual telemedicine visits and calls.
  3. Provide motivation, support, and encourage adherence to medications and the plan of care
  4. Send reminders, information, or instructions prior to an appointment or procedure
  5. Improve health literacy across generations via eHealth

Benefits of Using SMS Messaging within HELIOS for Proactive Care

Using a tool like HELIOStext enables convenient, secure outbound text messages that are treated as secure PII and PHI data. This is key for providers, payers, and care managers alike. Patient security and privacy is essential.
Moreover, HELIOS lets an organization do this within its platform, so no extra funds are wasted on a separate communication tool. It also means care managers can view and access all available behavioral, social, medical, and other third-party data of any member in their panel before sending any communication. This ensures communications between care teams and patients are always relevant and value-added.

Some of the wins that health organizations could see using HELIOStext capabilities include:

  • Better health outcomes due to proactive communication before appointments or care is received
  • Increased adherence of patients to provider instructions, care plans, or medication regimens due to motivational and reminder-focused messages
  • Improved understanding of health and health information
  • Higher patient engagement and self-care management
  • More proactive outreach by patients about their healthcare or appointments, treatments, and services
  • A more detailed understanding of patient needs, care desires and communication preferences

Consider Using SMS More in Care Delivery Approaches

Patients today are keen on digital health communication, and many prefer texting or virtual chats over email. Many also appreciate the ease and flexibility of being able to contact providers or care managers via text versus email or phone that may equate to longer wait and response times.

Patients, providers, payers, and care management teams can all benefit from this mode of instant communication.

Patients feel more informed and empowered. Providers and care management teams can be sure of patient outcomes, reduce miscommunications and build stronger, more loyal relationships. Payers can create more engaged and activated member bases who prioritize their health, and as a result, see greater member health and satisfaction.

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