5 Ways to Grow Your Medical Practice by Texting Patients
Communicating with patients is a pain. They rarely answer phone calls or emails, and there are incredibly strict HIPAA regulations you have to follow. But doing anything better is going to take time and money, right?
This is a huge problem for medical practices, but the solution is simpler than you think. In fact, doctors all over the country are earning more patients, more feedback, more profits, and even saving time and money simply by texting with patients.
I’m going to show you how you can do the same while also remaining compliant.
Why consider texting patients?
It’s the most powerful tool available that you aren’t already using. A few stats:
- 99% of texts are read
- Text click-through rates are 25X higher than email
- The average response time for a text is only 90 seconds
So how does this apply to your healthcare practice? These next five points will show you.
1. Send your online reviews through the roof.
People are picky about their physicians. Clients want to know that they (or their family members) are going to have a good experience before they even step foot through your doors. That’s why referrals, word of mouth, and online reviews are so important to your practice.
In fact, 90% of people say online reviews affect the choices they make. Equally important, the number of online reviews you have influences your rank in Google and Bing search results.
If you want to be one of the top three results when potential patients search online, you’ve got to have more reviews than everyone else. So how do you get more reviews?
It’s simple. After you’ve finished treating a patient, text them to task for an online review. E.g.:
“[First Name], thank you so much for visiting us today. Will you please share your experience with us on Google? google.com/mypractice”
You have the chance to make every patient feel comfortable and cared for. Do that, then text patients for reviews, and your online reputation will soar! You’ll be able to attract new patients and increase your patient base when you expand your communication services.
2. Bring in new patients with less effort.
What if you could bring in more patients while cutting back on ad spend? That’s exactly what you can do with SMS Chat. How?
You’re already driving people to your website. These are people looking for a solution you provide, all you have to do is get more of those people to reach out. That’s what SMS Chat does.
SMS Chat is a widget that lets people text you directly from your website. It has a friendly prompt to draw people in, and has been proven to start more conversations (like “do you accept my insurance” or “what do you have available”).
Messages through SMS Chat come into your online dashboard, and your replies go to the contact’s cell phone. People don’t have to wait online for you to respond, so you’ll also be able to complete more conversations and schedule more appointments.
Autoresponses are a helpful tool here. They’ll automatically respond to chats to say that a real person will respond momentarily (or whatever you want it to say).
Text conversations tend to be 5-10X more efficient than phone calls for the money spent, so you’ll book more appointments while saving on operations. That’s a win-win!
3. Schedule and confirm more appointments.
You have to see patients to run and grow your practice. But even if they want to see you, there are plenty of reasons why they might miss (and cost you money). They forget, something comes up, maybe their ride bails, or another reason.
That’s why quick appointment reminders are so important, and it’s another great opportunity to text your patients. For example:
“[First Name], we’re looking forward to seeing you tomorrow at 9am. Please let us know if something comes up. Thanks! - [Michelle, MedicalPractice]”
If there is an issue, people are far more likely to follow up with a text than to an email or call. Then you can reschedule and avoid a no-show.
Texting is also great for initially scheduling the appointment. Let’s say someone chats in “I need to schedule a routine appointment.” Your front desk can quickly text back:
“We look forward to seeing you! We’ve got Thurs at 10 and 2, Fri at 9, and Mon at 11 or 4 open. Would one of those work for you?”
A quick confirmation, and you’ve got another appointment in the books! That’s much better than forcing patients to wait on hold while your busy staff handles other patients.
4. Earn more feedback.
Feedback is crucial to improving your practice and ensuring nothing falls through the cracks. But try as you might, you struggle to get the patient feedback you need. That’s why many healthcare practices turn to texting.
Instead of sharing a physical handout or emailing a survey, simply text a link to your short survey. E.g.:
“We need your feedback to make [OurPlace] better. Will you please answer these 3 questions? google.forms/survey”
You can even trigger these messages from your patient software to send once the visit is complete. One healthcare company in Dallas increased completed feedback requests by 600% by texting, compared to the next best channel (email).
5. Increase payment collections.
Getting the money you’re owed is a struggle. Sometimes it’s because patients don’t have the funds to pay. More often, though, it’s because the paperwork is a mess or people forget about the bill. In either case, a text is a great prompt to collect payments.
You might say:
“Good morning! Here’s a quick reminder your bill for [Medical Office] is due on [10/26]. Please call us at this number for questions, or pay online at ourmedicalpractice.com/portal”
You can send messages like that to one patient at a time, or to everyone whose bill is outstanding (assuming you have a list of those contacts). It’s best practice to either automate these texts at certain intervals, or to send one a month to everyone who owes you.
Often, one payment conversion pays for these messages for a whole year!
Bonus: Text from your office phone number.
Existing patients already know or recognize your office phone number, so engagement is going to be higher if you can keep using that number to text, too. Text Request actually lets you text from your computer or mobile device for everything listed above using your landline, VOIP, or toll-free phone number.
Just check your number below to see if it’s eligible.
What about compliance?
Here’s what you need to know for HIPAA and texting:
1. It's fine for you to message your patients, as long as they consent to being messaged and you're using a compliant platform that saves and timestamps every message. That means you can't pull phone numbers from a list and start messaging them at random. Customers have to opt-in by texting you first or by providing you with their phone number.
2. Picture messaging (MMS) is still not HIPAA compliant. So stir the conversation to a secure channel if patients try to send pictures of protected health information (PHI).
How can your healthcare business start texting?
The first step is choosing a professional text messaging service where the software is secure and every message is permanently recorded and searchable. Text Request fits that bill, and can do everything mentioned in this article (plus a lot more to improve patient experience).
If you want to see how Text Request works or talk to an expert, click here to schedule a demo. Have other questions? Use the SMS Chat in the corner to ask!