5 Ways to Improve Patient Communications Using an SMS Service

January 31, 2018 | Back to the Blog

Are you tired of dealing with communication breakdowns at your practice?

No matter what you do, your no-show rate continues to climb through the roof while your customer service scores keep plummeting.

If these sound like your frustrations, there’s one communication method you’re probably not using and should be: text messages.

As you’ll see today, there are 5 specific types of texts you can send your patients to improve your communications and lower your no-show rates.

From confirming appointments to asking for feedback, let’s discuss how you can use texts to improve your practice’s operation now.

Here’s How to Improve Your Communication with Patients Using an SMS Service

Though your main goal may be improving communication, the first type of text on our list is one you can’t afford not to send if you want to grow your practice as well.

#1: Send new patients a welcome message.

Pop quiz: When a new patient walks through your doors, do you usually greet them with a smile or is there radio silence instead?

For most of us, the answer is clearly that we smile and welcome them with open arms.

Not only does this make a new patient feel at home, it also opens the lines of communication and starts the relationship on a positive note.

The exact same thing happens when you send new patients a digital welcome like this via text message.

Since texts are so personal, you’ll be initiating a private, intimate communication line ready for one-on-one dialogue.

By doing this, you’ll not only improve your communication but you’ll also strengthen your relationship with your patients.

Here’s how to put this in action: As soon as a new patient signs up, and once they’ve opted in to receive texts from your practice, send them a welcome message with the option to reply should they have any questions or need further help.

You can also add a link to your website or to a specific page, such as new patient forms, to help them get started even before they arrive for their first appointment.

Text messages can also help you improve communication with your existing patients.

#2: Keep existing patients up-to-date.

For both new patients and those already in your practice, it’s easy to keep everyone in the loop using texts.

If a last-minute weather emergency comes up or you’ve decided to extend this week’s hours to Saturday, send your patients a short text letting them know.

Since texts are great for quick updates, they’re perfect for conveying this type of information to all your subscribers at once.

They can also help both your practice and your patients manage appointments, as you’ll see next.

#3: Send appointment reminders.

With schedules that are only growing busier by the day, it’s far too easy for patients to miss their appointments.

But, with the help of a text messaging service, you can easily fix this for your patients and your team.

Here’s how to put this in action: To cut down on missed appointments, send your patients an appointment reminder text 1 week before their scheduled appointment time.

In this text, ask them to confirm by replying with a “Y” for yes or an “N” for no.

Based on their response, you can confirm the appointment or send another text asking them to reschedule if they answered with a no.

As the date approaches, or within 24 hours of their appointment, send one more text confirming that you’ll see them for their visit.

This gives your patients one last chance to cancel so you’re not stuck with a no-show.

Speaking of that, you don’t want the same thing to happen during an event you’re hosting, which is why these next texts come in handy.

#4: Promote upcoming events or specials.

Whether you’re promoting an upcoming event or a holiday health offer, you can use text messages to drive awareness and boost attendance rates.

Here’s how to put this in action:

Come up with a strong call to action in your initial offer text and include a link at the bottom for more information.

Add important details, such as when the offer expires, so your patients have a good idea of how much time they have.

You should also send a few short reminder texts as the end date gets closer so your patients don’t miss out on the promotional specials.

Make sure reminder texts only go to patients who have opened your initial offer texts.

If you send these texts to everyone, even those who didn’t show any interest, you’ll end up bombarding your entire list and lose subscribers as a result.

There’s also one more way you can use text messages to improve communications — and it doubles as a way to ensure you don’t lose any subscribers either.

#5: Ask for feedback.

Surveys, as you may have read in this article, are an amazing way to capture feedback from your patients.

In most cases, people aren’t as eager to speak their minds in person as they are via text.

So given the privacy of texts and the anonymity of surveys, you’re more likely to hear the information you need to become an all-star practice using an SMS service.

And there’s a few ways you can use them to improve your customer service every step of the way.

Here’s how to put this in action: After a new patient’s first visit, send a short survey asking them how everything went.

Since you’ve already sent these patients a welcome text, and you’ve initiated the conversation, they’ll be more likely to provide feedback — especially if your survey takes less than a minute or two to complete.

Now let’s talk about how to capture them at the right moment.

You don’t want to take too long after their initial visit otherwise your patients may not remember things as clearly.

A good rule of thumb is to send them a thank you text that also includes a short survey at least 1 hour after their visit.

If their appointment was later on in the day, you can send the text first thing the next morning. But that’s about as far as you should stretch it.

Use this same survey style to capture feedback from all your patients to compare feedback for each type of visit (new appointments versus follow ups, for example). You’ll see what’s working for patients and what needs to be worked on.

You can also send survey texts to patients who specifically took advantage of a promotional offer or attended an event you had.

In all these cases, you’re bound to hear feedback, both good and bad.

But you may also uncover a testimonial that could pay dividends in the long run too.

All this is possible simply from using text messages in your customer service strategy.

Improve Your Communication Today Using an SMS Service

While text messages may not have been your first go-to when it comes to communication with your patients, today we’ve shown you five reasons why it should be now.

Whether you use texts to welcome new members, send appointment reminders, drive awareness to your specials, or a combination of the above, you’ll start to see an improvement in your customer service in no time.

Plus, by capturing your patient’s feedback via text, you’ll have a much better idea of which areas could use improving. Fix these and your practice will have their appointment calendar booked solid all year.

If you’re ready to boost your patient communication, head here to start your free trial with a text messaging service today.

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About James Pelton

James Pelton is the Founder and CEO of Mobile Text Alerts

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