Sending automated text message reminders is an easy way to decrease no-shows.

Everyone is busy. Your patients are always on the go. You need to be able to connect with them wherever, whenever and however they find it convenient. Automated text message reminder software makes it easy to reach people quickly.

Just like phone calls and email, an automated mass text message service can send a variety of reminders, alerts and notifications. Some automated text messaging services, such as PhoneTree’s HealthWave Connect solution, allow the recipient to text a response. This makes confirmations or cancellations easy.

With HealthWave Connect it is also simple for patients to opt-out of future automated text messages, which saves staff time and helps to comply with automated messaging regulations. Each message gives them instructions on how to opt-out directly from the text they received. The opt-out is automatically recorded by our software, and no more text messages will be sent. Your staff doesn’t have to lift a finger.

Just the Facts: Why Text Message Reminders are Critical

Research shows just some of the reasons why it’s important to send notifications using a text messaging system.

Healthcare Providers Should Follow Certain Guidelines When Sending Automated Text Message Reminders

Practices can send information by text to patients as long as it does not contain Protected Health Information (PHI). Examples of appropriate healthcare text messages include appointment reminders, recalls, collection notifications, office closings or schedule changes, to name a few.

Texting Best Practices

  • When constructing text messages (or any type of patient communication), healthcare providers should limit the amount of information to only what is necessary, such as first name or initials only. The goal is to minimize the risk of the patient actually being identified if the message reaches the wrong person.
  • It is also important to notify patients that they may receive reminders via call, text or email, unless they request that reminders not be sent by those means.
  • Quickly honor requests that reminders not be sent.
  • Patient contact information should be verified on each visit.

Healthcare text message reminders and HIPAA

HIPAA specifically allows direct communication with patients. Of course, whether that communication takes the form of a phone call, mail, email or text message, health care providers must have adequate safeguards in place to protect patient privacy. Follow some simple guidelines.

If the content of a message contains electronic Protected Health Information, then the text message must comply with HIPAA privacy rules and security standards. Text messages containing ePHI should be sent in a secure, encrypted and approved format. You can read more about HIPAA compliant healthcare text reminders here.

What About Encryption of Text Messages?

There is also a lot of discussion in healthcare today about encrypting text messages to protect patient privacy. Automated messages with protected patient information should be encrypted. Read more in this discussion about HIPAA and texting.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.

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