The Friday Five – How Texting Improves Healthcare Outcomes

Healthcare NOW Radio turns to the insights of Kathy Ford, President and Chief Product Officer at Rhinogram, for this week’s Friday Five. Based in Chattanooga, Tenn., Rhinogram is a provider of cloud-based, HIPAA-compliant telehealth communications – connecting patients, clinicians and office administrators through confidential, text-based interactions in real time.

How Texting Improves Healthcare Outcomes 
By Kathy Ford, President and Chief Product Officer, Rhinogram
Twitter: @rhinogram

Dr. Keith Dressler, orthodontist and founder of Rhinogram, regularly uses text messaging to help patients break their thumbsucking habit. He shows parents a simple method, and invites them to text a picture later, showing the patient using that method. Dr. Dressler will text back encouragement, and for his patients, that extra step has made a world of difference.

“Texting with them let’s me stay connected to my patients throughout the process,” says Dr. Dressler. “It improves outcomes and forms long-lasting relationships.”

Texting to improve health is not new.
As far back as 2009, a New York Times article reported on a study that showed improved adherence among young liver transplant patients through text messaging. Over a year, researchers sent text messages to 41 pediatric liver transplant patients, reminding them to take their medications throughout the day. Because of these text reminders, the teenagers were more likely to take their medicine than before doing the study.

Texting has become ingrained in our lives.
As of 2017, 22 billion texts were sent everyday worldwide. Because we are all so busy, many people find that texting is just more convenient than a phone call. And because of this, texting is the next logical step in helping professionals in the dental and medical fields improve patient outcomes, faster.

22 billion texts are sent worldwide each day.
There are other examples.
Oxford University headed up a study that found text messaging reminders to patients can help reduce their blood pressure. Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that text messaging can shorten patient recovery times, which is good for the patient and the hospital.

Patients that exhibit poor health choices—such as not taking prescribed medications, eating an unhealthy diet, and not exercising lead to preventable conditions—make up as much as 75% of the healthcare costs in the United States, according to the Department of Health & Human Services.

Texting with your patients can help change this behavior.
Through personalized, tailored messages (yes, they can even be templates) that remind them of the tasks they need to do, such as taking medication, or appointment reminders, you can help your patients keep better track of their care in a much less time-consuming way, leaving you more time to get all the other stuff done around the office. Plus, you’re offering a way for patients to have two-way conversations if they have questions or concerns, which helps them feel more at-ease, knowing they can text you at any time (within limits, of course!) without committing to a long phone call.

Also, a text provides a visual reminder throughout the day, rather than a one-and-done phone call that will most likely go to voicemail. Voicemails are easily forgotten about. Text messages tend to be more visible.

Texting can improve patient engagement.
Texting can also improve overall patient engagement and encourage them to be more involved with their treatment plans. It also gives patients the flexibility to interact the way they feel most comfortable, which can provide trust and loyalty, making it more likely they will seek regular preventative care and treatment for chronic conditions.

If you’re looking for more information about how texting might be a good fit for your practice feel free to text them at 423.800.7644 with questions.

ICYMI – Our other Friday Fives and Blog posts from HCNR’s Nurse Lauren.

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