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Boost Clinical Outcomes & Patient Safety Through Targeted Text Messaging

patient texting increase patient safety and clinical outcomes

When we think of texting patients, the types of messages that generally come to mind first are those concerning issues like appointment reminders and verification, billing, lab results, and post-appointment surveys. While these are great uses for text messaging, hospitals, health systems, and other providers are discovering how texting positively impacts clinical outcomes and patient safety. Improvements in these areas can significantly affect financial performance (e.g., reducing readmissions and associated penalties), patient satisfaction, staff productivity and satisfaction, Net Promoter Score and CAHPS results, online reviews, and much more. 

Below are examples of texts that can help your organization strengthen its clinical outcomes and patient safety. The topics covered may sound familiar as they could be covered in your patient education materials and/or during discussions with patients and their caregivers. However, these are issues worthy of reminders — critical instructions you need your patients to know and ensure they follow but you're not likely to call them about, given staff bandwidth and the significant reduction in patients who answer calls and listen to voicemails. 

10 Text Messages to send to Boost Clinical Outcomes & Patient Safety:

1. Optimizing Preoperative Bathing for Infection Prevention 

Preoperative bathing plays a key role in infection prevention by reducing the number of germs on a patient's skin. Send texts reminding patients to purchase any special soap recommended for preoperative bathing (e.g., chlorhexidine) and when they should use the soap (e.g., two days before surgery, the day before surgery, the morning of surgery). If you want to provide more detailed preoperative bathing instructions that speak to topics like shaving and drying, include a hyperlink to this resource in your text.  

2. Reducing Surgical Infection Risks for Postoperative Monitoring and Patient Safety

Anyone who undergoes a surgical procedure is at risk of infection and possibly sepsis. Send a postoperative text reminding patients to monitor their incision for issues like swelling and bleeding and provide instructions on what patients should do if they see anything concerning (e.g., contact the care team).  

A reminder text can also share other potential indicators of an infection, like fever, chills, pain, and nausea. Two-way healthcare texting gives you the ability to allow a patient to respond to these reminder texts and request a call from their care team if they have concerns. This capability could prevent unnecessary visits to the emergency department.  

3. Increased Shower Chair Safety for Surgical Patients 

Patients who undergo surgical procedures like total knee and hip replacements should sit on a shower chair when they bathe to reduce the likelihood of a catastrophic fall. Send a text message leading up to the day of surgery that reminds patients that they need a chair and a postoperative reminder text message to use the chair. 

4. Maximizing Home Safety and Preparation for Postoperative Recovery

Getting one's home ready for postoperative surgical recovery is essential to reducing the likelihood of falls. Send a text reminding patients about key preparation steps, including removing loose cords, taping down corners of rugs, containing small pets, and creating a living environment on a single floor to eliminate the need to go up and down stairs. Two-way texting can enable an organization to ask patients to confirm they have conducted this preparation, adding another layer of accountability. 

5. Enhancing Childbirth Experience: Smooth Childbirth Transition and Postpartum Wellness

Childbirth is a laborious process (no pun intended) requiring intense preparation. There is a lot of information for an expecting parent(s) to process. Utilizing texting can significantly contribute to enhancing clinical outcomes and patient safety by ensuring essential details are not overlooked. In anticipation of the expected delivery date or a scheduled C-section or induced labor, sending a reminder text can emphasize the necessity of having an infant car seat in the vehicle. Subsequently, after childbirth, text messages can serve as vital reminders, covering crucial aspects such as monitoring incisions for infection and providing links to resources regarding breastfeeding and postpartum depression.. 

6. Improving Nuclear Medicine Operations

Nuclear medicine departments experience significant financial losses when patients miss or are late to appointments, requiring the wasting of expensive doses of radioactive materials/radiopharmaceuticals. A text message emphasizing the importance of on-time arrival for administration and the value of the patient's medication — language not typically included in an appointment reminder text — can further hit home the importance of not missing an appointment or informing the organization if rescheduling is necessary before doses are prepped. Two-way texts can enable patients to easily request a call if they have questions or need to reschedule. 

7. Streamlining Colonoscopy Preparation

A successful colonoscopy requires patients to follow preparation instructions, including stopping some supplements, drinking clear liquids, avoiding solid foods, and drinking the cleansing solution and/or taking special oral laxatives. Organizations can set up a series of texts to help ensure colonoscopy preparation compliance, reminding patients to acquire the bowel prep kit and when they should begin each step in the preparation process. A text message following the procedure can remind patients about possible common side effects and what patients should do if they have questions or concerns. 

8. Ensuring Effective Recovery Post-Cataract Surgery

Following cataract surgery, patients' eyes are vulnerable to infection and complications. Eye drops play a crucial role in preventing postoperative problems. Send texts reminding patients to use their drops and the importance of carefully following instructions. Texts can also share potential signs of complications and information on whom patients should contact if they have questions or concerns. Two-way texting can make it easy for patients to request assistance. 

9. Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) After Surgery

Surgery that decreases mobility can increase inflammation in the body and the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Send a text reminding patients about the importance of using their intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) devices and/or taking a prescribed blood-thinning medication. A text can also inform patients about warning signs of DVT and the actions they should take if they have concerns. 

10. Boosting Post-Discharge Compliance: Engaging Text Message Strategies for Patient Recovery


Most treatments and surgical procedures require patients to complete post-discharge tasks as part of their recovery process. Common examples include making follow-up appointments with providers (e.g., home care agency, physical/occupational therapy, primary care) and filling prescriptions. A text message can remind patients about the need to follow their post-discharge instructions, including making appointments and picking up medications. These are areas where two-way texting really shines. You can ask patients in a text whether they have completed critical post-discharge tasks. A confirmation moves you from "hoping" to "knowing" the patient has complied.  

If patients indicate they have not yet complied, a follow-up text message can ask if they require assistance. A confirmation here empowers you to perform targeted outreach via phone call to help get patients back on the right path to recovery (and out of the emergency department). 

A text message can also serve to remind patients about where they can access their post-discharge information and instructions (e.g., patient portal) and provide them with a phone number they can call if they have questions or require assistance. 

Empower Patient Compliance With Text Messaging 

Avoiding the phrase "No one told me!" is crucial for healthcare providers striving to boost clinical outcomes and patient safety. When patients utter these words, it often signifies a breakdown in communication that could potentially compromise their well-being. The use of text messaging software can easily turn "No one told me!" to "Thanks for the reminder!" By leveraging text messaging software, healthcare providers can effortlessly transform such instances into expressions of gratitude for timely reminders.

These prompt messages not only encourage patients to take better care of themselves but also assist providers in ensuring patients arrive adequately prepared for appointments and adhere to vital instructions, thus minimizing the need for additional and avoidable services. The text message samples provided above only scratch the surface of how texting can enhance clinical outcomes and patient safety. 

The text message examples provided above scratch the surface of how texting can help you improve clinical outcomes and patient safety. What other ways can text messaging be used? Ask your staff what they wish patients knew or would be reminded of and you're sure to come away with some great additional ideas for messages. You can also reach out to us at Dialog Health to discuss how we're helping organizations just like yours turn two-way texting designed for healthcare into an essential clinical tool.  



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