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Survey: Text Messaging Often Used for Appointment Reminders

May 29, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal
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More than two-thirds of healthcare leaders in a recent survey indicated that their organization uses text messaging, while many cited that it is employed after receiving patient indication of preference and consent.

The research comes from the latest Medical Group Management Association’s (MGMA) Stat Poll, which asked healthcare leaders if their organization uses text messaging to communicate appointments to patients. The data also revealed that it was a common sentiment that the texting platform was used exclusively for reminders, not for scheduling or changing appointments.

Of the 24 percent of respondents who did not utilize text messages, many said they use an alternative such as email or phone call reminders, largely because they believe text messaging is expensive and not worth the cost. Additionally, 7 percent of respondents were considering integrating appointment communication via text, while 1 percent were unsure.

The research was conducted in May and included nearly 1,600 applicable responses. Every week, officials from the Colorado-based MGMA ask participants a question via text message. The association then aggregates all responses and replies with the results within 48 hours.

In an insight article that accompanied the survey, MGMA noted some further results, including:

Respondents whose organizations use text messaging for patient appointment communication noted:

  • They offer patients the option to confirm, cancel or ask to reschedule via text
  • Patients first give their permission to text as their primary method for reminders
  • The practice may use multiple options to remind patients but texting often is the patients’ preferred method
  • Text messaging is normally the most effective method over email, phone calls or mailings

Common responses from those whose organizations do not offer text messaging included:

  • Not having a setup to offer text communications
  • Exclusively using phone calls or emails for reminders
  • Relying on a hospital’s texting capabilities if part of a larger system
  • Physician reluctance to move to text messaging

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