Texting a Doctor

POSTED December 2, 2021
Texting a Doctor

With HIPAA, giving away medical information over text is not an option. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything via text, either. Text messaging for doctors can include all sorts of benefits for healthcare: scheduling appointment reminders, handling follow-up contacts, and managing a busy doctor’s office.
What happens if you need to text a doctor that is on vacation? Or if the medical practice needs to set a new appointment? Many people prefer texting a doctor these days. And when managing a medical practice, you’ll need the tools that make handling specific, on-point communication much easier.
Given just how many people do prefer to receive a text instead of a phone call, it’s also becoming the go-to way for many doctors to reach their patients with non-HIPAA applicable communications. Here’s what you’ll need to know if you’re considering it yourself:

How Can Doctors Use Text Messaging?

One way doctors can’t use text messaging is clear: you can’t send out vital, private medical information over text. But where does that leave the rest of the communications? As it turns out, there’s still a lot you can cover.
The healthcare industry can sometimes feel like navigating a minefield, especially for a patient’s mobile device. But as long as you know what you can do, you can use a messaging platform to not only make managing your practice easier—you can make it more convenient for your patients as well. Consider everything you can do:
Appointment reminders. A quick SMS for an appointment reminder can be a life-saver for a patient with a busy schedule. In a sea of notifications, they can get distracted and forget about a follow-up appointment, a check-up, or whatever the case may be. They can also use SMS to reschedule appointments, ensuring that the patient experience is fully interactive without sharing protected information.
Patient engagement. Running specific consultations? Offers, such as a new telehealth service? Engaging with patients via text can be an important way to get the word out. HIPAA regulations primarily deal with protected health information, but communicating unrelated information available to the public is much easier to manage via text. You can also use patient engagement to make people feel appreciated and increase patient satisfaction.
Past due reminders. Rather than play a game of phone tag in real-time, texting someone allows them to respond on their time. That can be ideal for patients as well as healthcare providers. SMS texting can use past due reminders to help discourage no-shows, for example. This has a net benefit for the healthcare provider, ultimately streamlining the way they handle their schedules.
Surveys. And speaking of patient satisfaction, what better way to increase it than with text communications? Many people these days prefer to hear from healthcare providers via text. Many of us don’t like the intrusive nature of loud phone calls that can go off at any time. But when we receive texts, we know that we can reply whenever we have a moment. Sending out surveys can also help you automatically gather feedback about your healthcare services.
Integration with calendars. Ever notice that you have a robust calendar system, but it’s hard to get your patients on board? Integrating your two-way SMS communication with calendars makes it far easier to handle everything from a single source. You can even send clients calendar invites to schedule appointments, assuming you’re using the proper channels. Adding an SMS platform can help you automate workflows that enhance the quality of every day you spend at the healthcare center.
Once you have a patient’s phone number, you’ve been entrusted with a lot. But as a doctor, you’re used to this. You know every HIPAA security rule that impacts you, you know the challenges of HIPAA compliance, and you work hard to make sure you stick to the rules. The good news? An SMS platform can conform to these complicated regulations while also giving you the freedom to improve your offerings.
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What about HIPAA?

HIPAA doesn’t disappear just because the world has created incredible new technology. And texting is fantastic new technology—especially if you learn how to leverage it. But remaining HIPAA-compliant does require some vigilance.
The most obvious thing to do is avoid sharing PHI or protected health information over text. The reason you can’t do this? It’s possible someone else could pick up the phone and find out information the recipient wanted to keep private. Plus, it’s against the rules.
Patient information is, of course, vital to protect your patients. As a doctor, you’re already careful to avoid running afoul of these rules. You not only know the consequences of doing so, but you know the trust required for effective patient communication.
As long as you avoid sharing PHI via text messaging, you’d be surprised at the amount of freedom you have. Your SMS text service can reschedule a patient’s appointment, efficiently handling your workflow. And using a secure text messaging platform means you’re showing your patients that you place a high premium on trust.

Making Doctor-Patient Communication Work via SMS

Web Texting for doctors might feel like a minefield sometimes. But it’s also an opportunity to reach out to new patients, build trust with existing patients, and build a better practice.
You can’t do everything you want with SMS messaging. Healthcare is too sensitive for that. But you can do a lot more than you might have thought, including building calendar workflows that make managing your practice a cinch. As you stay in touch with patients and build a better communication system, you also may become their go-to visit any time they have a problem.
When you establish that you’re a doctor, they can trust, but a doctor they can reach changes the way they see you. And with the right platform in place, you’ll have the technology to help manage any inflow of new patients as a result.

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