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Candid Reflections: My Colonoscopy Journey Made More Uncomfortable by Communication Breakdowns

By Brandon Daniell, President and Co-Founder, Dialog Health

calendar for colonoscopy appointment

With respect to Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, I’m revisiting my painful colonoscopy experience from last year.  In early May of last year, I embarked on a significant milestone in my healthcare journey: my inaugural colonoscopy appointment. Despite my years of experience in the healthcare field, nothing quite prepared me for the reality of the prep and procedure. If you've never undergone a colonoscopy, let me tell you, the prep phase is no walk in the park — it's uncomfortable, to say the least. I'll spare you the gritty details.

What's equally challenging is the multitude of steps involved and the precise timing required for each one — from picking up the prep kit to navigating through the prep process to arranging transportation for the procedure. Any slip-up in timing or missed step could mean a cancellation, rescheduling, or even the possibility of missed polyps.

Considering that colonoscopies have been a routine procedure for almost 75 years and are performed millions of times annually, one would expect healthcare providers to have a better communication process for guiding patients through every aspect of the experience.

With over a decade of experience in healthcare consultancy, particularly in enhancing patient engagement throughout their journey, I am well aware of the potential of technology like text messaging, especially two-way communication, in assisting patients, reducing cancellations, and ensuring successful outcomes.

Unfortunately, my personal experience did not align with this expectation. What I encountered during my colonoscopy journey only served to make this already uncomfortable experience unnecessarily arduous.

Here’s What Went Wrong:


Lack of Comprehensive Communication:

The ASC primarily relied on a single text message for communication throughout the entire patient journey, neglecting to provide crucial details and reminders.


Overabundance of Emails and Calls:

Despite confirming attendance via text and my preference for text communication, the ASC bombarded me with three email reminders and two phone calls, which many of I missed, causing unnecessary confusion and frustration.


Complex Instructions:

The ASC provided a detailed list of dos and don'ts via paper, overwhelming patients with numerous steps and precise timings, increasing the risk of compliance errors.


Lack of Clear Information:

Vital details such as arrival time, parking instructions, and necessary items were not communicated effectively, leading to uncertainty and last-minute arrangements.


Ineffective Follow-up:

The ASC failed to inform me about an early morning follow-up call, resulting in missed communication and delayed responses.


Steps to Enhance Patient Satisfaction and Reduce ASC Staff Workload Through Two-Way Texting:


Reminders and Instructions:

Two-way texting could have provided timely reminders to pick up the prep kit, dietary restrictions, and crucial timings for starting the prep, ensuring better preparation and compliance.


text message appointment reminder for colonoscopy

Accessibility and Convenience:

Text messages could have included electronic versions of instructions, reducing the risk of losing crucial paperwork and providing easy access to essential information.


Enhanced Pre-Appointment Communication:

Texts could have informed me of arrival times, parking details, and items to bring, streamlining the process and reducing anxiety.  And drastically reduced their workload with phone calls and emails.


Opt-In Follow-up Communication:

Instead of unexpected phone calls, texting could have allowed for opt-in follow-up communication, providing convenience, and ensuring timely responses.


follow up communication for colonoscopy for better patient satisfaction

Feedback and Engagement:

Texting could have solicited feedback on the patient experience, encouraged positive reviews, and maintained engagement with patients post-procedure, fostering a positive relationship.

In summary, effective communication is vital in healthcare, and leveraging two-way texting could significantly improve the patient journey by providing timely reminders, accessible information, and opt-in engagement.

Here is the full experience from last year’s blog post...just in case you missed it.



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