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10 Reasons GI ASCs Turn to Texting as a Patient Engagement Solution

An image of a woman wearing a white shirt engaged in a discussion with a doctor in a clinical environment with Dialog Health

During National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, we're shedding light on how HIPAA-compliant text messaging is transforming gastroenterology centers' screening programs. Through close collaboration, we've helped these organizations harness texting's power to enhance patient engagement, boost screening rates, and ensure compliance. With about 30% of U.S. adults aged 50-75 overdue for colorectal cancer screenings, and expanded guidelines for ages 45-50, there's an excellent opportunity to increase participation. Early detection significantly reduces colorectal cancer fatalities, and conversational text messaging proves highly effective in supporting these efforts.

That's why we've compiled the "10 Reasons GI ASCs Turn to Texting for Patient Engagement.

#1 - The Popularity of Text Messaging

People are already opting in to receive text messages from a wide range of businesses, including airlines, credit card companies, banks, service providers like auto repair shops and hair salons, and many others. Incorporating text messaging, GI centers and practices leverage a communication channel that has already been widely adopted and embraced by a significant portion of their patient base, encompassing even older demographics.

#2 - Preferred Communication Tool

Nearly all American adults have mobile phones and use text messaging in their daily lives, which includes patients who fall in the recommended screening age range of 45-75. AARP has found that among those ages 50-69, text messaging is the technology tool most used to stay connected. This dispels the commonly perpetuated myth that age is a barrier to texting.

group of people all texting on cellphones with dialog health

#3 - User-Friendly: No Learning Curve

To enhance patient engagement, GI organizations can leverage two-way texting, the most efficient communication method. This approach allows seamless information exchange between patients, caregivers, and facility staff. The beauty of it is that this doesn't demand any additional hardware; just the organization's existing computers and patients' mobile phone numbers.

From the patient's perspective, embracing two-way texting involves no major adjustments. They simply need to share their mobile number with their healthcare provider, opt-in to the texting service, and be familiar with opening and responding to the messages they receive.

#4 - Increase Patient Engagement

Data has shown that texting can achieve a reach rate well-exceeding 80%.(1) For GI providers, this is particularly helpful for powering screening recall programs. Since patients' mobile numbers typically do not change, phone numbers captured and entered into your text messaging system are likely to remain the same for years.

#5 - Reduces cancellations, No-Shows, and No-Goes

The work that goes into connecting with a patient and scheduling them for their screening will be for naught if the screening does not proceed as planned. A missed screening means a patient is not only failing to receive the care they need, increasing their risk for colorectal cancer, but if a GI center learns a patient will be missing their appointment too close to its scheduled time, this could lead to unused procedure room capacity. This then translates to a missed billing opportunity and staffing costs not offset by billable services.

Texting patients is proven to reduce cancellations, no-shows, and no-goes. Before the scheduled screening, gastroenterology ASCs can send messages that remind patients about the procedure and prep requirements, include a phone number if patients have questions or concerns, and give directions to the organization. When text messages are sent far enough in advance asking patients to confirm their procedure, a center may have adequate time to fill an opening if a patient indicates a need to reschedule.

#6 - Benefits of Automation

GI organizations can schedule text messages to go out to patients in advance, whether that be days, weeks or months before recommended screening appointments. With such automation, there's no risk of falling behind and creating a backlog of outreach efforts.

#7 - Improves Optimization of Staffing and Productivity

With healthcare organizations, including GI providers, struggling with staff retention and recruitment, text messaging is helping ease workloads and allowing more efficient use of available staff time. Text messaging can help centers maintain a more optimal schedule, limiting the need for overtime and PRN staff. Texting substantially decreases the number of phone calls staff must make to and receive from patients and caregivers. The time saved on calls can allow a GI ASC and practice to reduce the number of hours staff need to work or provide an opportunity for staff who would be making these calls to help with other work that can strengthen clinical and financial performance.

#8 - Speedy Cost-Effective Solutions

The cost of sending a stuffed envelope, taking into consideration staff time and materials, can exceed $2.00. Most outreach efforts by phone require multiple calls — and are often unsuccessful. Every call takes up precious, expensive staff time. The cost to send a text message is usually pennies.

#9 - Boosting Efficiency in Colon Cancer Screening

Since two-way text messages are delivered through a technology platform, GI centers will gain the ability to track and evaluate their screening program's by running reports and reviewing key metrics. On a high level, centers should have access to data concerning the number of patients subscribed to a screening recall program, how many mobile phone numbers are in the center's database (which can be increased), the number of patients who successfully received text messages, and how many patients proceeded with scheduling an appointment and then maintaining that appointment. Such information and other data captured by a texting technology platform can help a GI center and practice identify opportunities for improvement and more effectively benchmark performance.

#10 - Maximizing the Value of Online Resources

Since nearly all mobile phones have access to the internet, text messaging is an effective way to steer patients to resources and information on the web. For example, if a GI center has a portal patients can use to schedule their own appointment, a text can inform patients that they can schedule their screening online and include a hyperlink to the portal. Linking can also be a simple way to notify, educate and provide support to patients. Links can steer patients to prep instructions, frequently asked questions, directions to a facility, educational resources and more.

Adding Text Messaging to Your GI Center

HIPAA-compliant, conversational two-way texting is a communication platform that's proving to be an asset to GI facilities nationwide. By embracing the convenience, speed, and ubiquity of two-way texting, GI centers and practices are increasing patient engagement, improving staff performance, and boosting patient volume and revenue. Most importantly, and in the spirit of the goals of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, texting is helping more patients who benefit from colorectal cancer screening to undergo the procedure and get the care they need.

To learn more about Dialog Health's industry-leading two-way texting platform, used by leading GI ASCs and practices nationwide, schedule your demo today.


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