Healthcare offices are often drowning in paperwork and administrative tasks, so stopping to answer patient calls can be almost impossible. Business texting is an affordable tool with a high response rate that can replace phone calls or significantly reduce them. Directing conversations from the phone to a text message can help healthcare facilities manage more patients without sacrificing time or patient needs.
There are numerous use cases for business texting in the healthcare space, but the most common ones include:
- Scheduling appointments
- Sending appointment reminders
- Sharing payment links
- Sending payment reminders
- Answering patient questions
- Providing updates
With business texting, medical practices can automate messages to handle the use cases listed above. Automated text messages don’t have to lose their personal touch, either. Most business texting platforms allow you to customize your messaging, and business SMS allows two-way communication, so your patients can always respond to an automation to seek help.
Make sure your practice is HIPAA-compliant
Before you can text your patients, you want to ensure that your texting software is HIPAA-compliant. Softwares like Textline automate patient consent to make HIPAA compliance easier to acquire and keep on record. For more information on HIPAA-compliant texting, you can read our article: “What is HIPAA compliance? Rules and strategies for compliant patient communication.”
Why you should reduce calls to improve efficiency and increase revenue
There are numerous ways to reduce patient call volume with business texting, but first, let’s look at why reducing call volume is a good move for your medical practice.
Lowering your patient call volume has several benefits for your business:
- Less stress for your healthcare administration staff.
- The ability to help more patients simultaneously via text than a phone call.
- Significantly lower costs (texts cost pennies per conversation, whereas calls can cost $6 to $12 per call.)
- More manageable communication for your patients (texting is the most popular communication channel globally.)
- Limits phone calls to high-priority needs only.
Not only does texting save your healthcare business time and money, but it’s also preferred by your patients, as it’s the most popular communication channel in the world. Because of how popular texting is, it’s become a requirement for businesses to have if they want to meet their patients’ needs.
Many of your patients may also suffer from phone call anxiety. A 2019 survey conducted in the UK found that 76 percent of millennials and 40 percent of baby boomers feel anxious when they hear their phone ring. That anxiety causes 61 percent of those millennials to avoid calls altogether, compared to 42 percent of baby boomers.
Texting is a less invasive way to contact your patients, and they can reply at their convenience. Though, the average text receives a response within 90 seconds.
5 ways to use business texting to reduce patient call volume
If you’re looking for ways to reduce patient calls and drive patients to text, here are some use cases you can transfer to texting.
1. Schedule appointments
Calling patients to schedule appointments can be a hassle, as they often won’t pick up due to busy schedules, phone call anxiety, or several other reasons. It is also time-consuming to call patients one at a time, so texting is a better option for scheduling appointments.
With business SMS, you can text multiple patients simultaneously. Most business texting software lets users automate texts, saving your administrative workers even more time. The average response rate for a text message is 45 percent, higher than other communication channels like email that have a 10 percent response rate at best.
As we mentioned earlier, a phone call can cost $6 to $12 on average, whereas texting costs pennies per conversation. Say you’re a small clinic that calls roughly 20 patients a day. For calls alone, that can cost your business somewhere between $120 to $240 a day. That number falls under a dollar with business SMS.
2. Send reminders
Not only can you use business texting to schedule an appointment, but you can also use it to send reminders to confirm appointments. No-shows cost the medical industry a whopping $150 billion a year. Sending an appointment reminder via text can significantly decrease your patient no-show rate, which can save your healthcare business hundreds of dollars in missed appointment revenue.
But how do your patients feel about handling appointments via text? Fifty-five percent of the respondents to a Twilio survey said they would like to reply to reminder alerts to confirm, ask for details, reschedule, or cancel an appointment.
To learn more about how texting can help you reduce your patient no-show rate, check out our article “Dollars and sense: Reducing appointment no-shows with business SMS.”
3. Share and collect medical bills
Medical debt is one of the most prominent forms of debt in the U.S. According to a New York Times article, medical debt totaled close to $140 billion in the last year. One way to combat unpaid medical bills is to use texting to share and collect patient dues.
Business texting is a gentle yet direct way to let patients know how much they owe. Multimedia Messaging Services, also known as MMS, and link-sharing, make it even easier to collect payments via text. Instead of directing patients to a payment link on a phone call or email, you can send them a direct link to pay over text. With less friction in their paying, patients are more inclined to pay their bills on time.
You can learn more about sharing and collecting medical bills via SMS in our blog post “4 ways to improve medical billing with business texting.”
4. Check-in with patients
Patients want to know that you have their best interest in mind, even after they leave your office. That’s why checking in with patients is a vital part of patient care. But it can be challenging to call patients individually, and your administration team likely doesn’t have the time to do so.
With business SMS, you can check in with patients without sacrificing time or care. Patients can text your number with any concerns they have or simply let your staff know that they’re doing well. If a patient has a more severe problem, discussing it over text first can help your team figure out the right treatment plan for the patient before giving them a call.
5. Answer patient questions
Healthcare is a customer service industry, and one way to cater to patients is to provide them with the proper channels to ask questions.
Link sharing and MMS can help you resolve patient questions faster, making your team more efficient and providing your patients with better support than they would receive via a phone call. You can also use automated responses to answer frequently asked questions, like visitation hours, a link to a patient portal, or general information.
By offering your patients an alternative to texting that is convenient and practical for them, you are lowering the number of calls your administrative team has to handle.
3 ways to roll out business texting for your healthcare business
1. Make your texting number public
The first step to getting your patients to text you instead of calling is to advertise your texting number so they know it exists. It sounds simple, but this is a step most businesses forget. You should add your business texting number to any place you include your contact information.
Some popular places to add your business texting number include your website, Google business profile, social media pages, email, and any printed materials like snail mail or business cards. For more places to list your business texting number, read our article “11 top ways to let your customers know they can text your business.”
If you advertise your texting number over your phone number, patients will get used to texting you instead of calling.
2. Encourage patients to text at every interaction
You can encourage patients to text you by mentioning text as your preferred communication style any time you can. For example, if you need to send follow-up care instructions to a patient, ask them if you can text it to them in the form of a text or link.
Essentially, you are training your patients to text you.
3. Automate messages for everyday use cases
One of the best and most widely used ways to reduce patient calls is to automate any messages or replies on text. For example, your medical practice can send appointment confirmations, reminders, payment links, and significant updates via text. Patients are more likely to reply to you when you contact them. So, if your practice uses medical texting as its primary communication tool, then your patients will follow suit.
The bottom line: Business SMS significantly reduce patient calls
Once you start using business texting in your medical practice, you’ll be surprised by how quickly your patients will adapt to the change.
Not only will business texting help you reduce your patient calls, but it will make your practice more efficient with patient scheduling, collecting medical billing, and meeting your patient’s needs in a timely and organized manner.