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Texting Eliminates 70% of Emergency Department Discharge Phone Calls

Updated: Jun 2

FRANKLIN, Tenn., May 18, 2021 — A data analysis by Dialog Health shows that hospitals using two-way text messaging can eliminate most follow-up phone calls to patients discharged from emergency departments while freeing up hundreds of staff hours.

The data comes from Hackensack Meridian Mountainside Medical Center (MMC) in Montclair, N.J., a 365-bed joint venture between Ardent Health Services and Hackensack Meridian Health. In 2020, MMC discharged 22,863 patients. Of these, about 70% (16,045 patients) received a text message delivered via Dialog Health, a two-way texting platform that enables information to be pushed to and pulled from patients, staff, and caregivers.


The discharge text presented patients with follow-up options, including whether they wanted to receive a call from a nurse. The other options concerned billing, scheduling a primary care appointment, and accessing MMC's patient portal.


Of the patients who received the text message:

  • 15,310 (95.4%) did not require a follow-up call

  • 735 (4.6%) replied to the text and requested follow-up assistance

  • Of these, 336 patients requested a call from the nurse. The remaining 399 requested assistance with another matter.

  • Only 74 patients (less than 0.01%) opted out of future texts from MMC

Thanks to texting, MMC emergency department staff only needed to call 7,154 discharged patients (31%): 6,818 patients who could not be reached via text and 336 who requested a call in a reply to the text.


That left 15,709 patients who did not require a follow-up call. Assuming an average call takes 2 minutes, emergency department discharge text messaging saved MMC more than 500 staff hours in 2020.

Solving Problems with Texting

MMC determined that its staff was spending significant time making follow-up phone calls to emergency department-discharged patients, with many calls leading to voicemails. The hospital partnered with Dialog Health to deploy two-way texting to more reliably and efficiently reach discharged patients.


Texting has allowed MMC to identify which patients need further engagement post-discharge and the type of engagement they seek. MMC is also using text messaging to remind patients to follow discharge and medication instructions and guide them to log into the hospital's patient portal for additional information.


"Texting has proven to be a highly efficient, fast, and cost-effective way to streamline much of our emergency department discharge communications and reduce staff workload without sacrificing care quality," says Bryan Yarbrough, director of integrated services, marketing, for Ardent Health Services. "By adding text messaging, we can communicate with patients in a manner many of them prefer, which also helps improve satisfaction and engagement. Texting also allows us to achieve other improvements, such as increasing adherence with primary care follow-up appointments and collections."


Organizations like MMC are increasingly relying on texting for patient and staff communications. Phone calls require substantial staff time and resources but deliver poor results because of the tendency for consumers to ignore calls from unfamiliar numbers. Email communications have become less dependable due to the proliferation of spam and sheer volume of emails.


"We are pleased that this analysis further demonstrates the value and effectiveness of two-way text messaging for communicating and coordinating with patients," says Brandon Daniell, president and co-founder of Dialog Health. "The speed, convenience, and ubiquity of texting is helping healthcare providers increase patient participation and engagement in their care, which is contributing to better outcomes."


To learn about ways your organization can benefit from texting with Dialog Health, schedule a demo.

About Dialog Health

Dialog Health provides a two-way texting platform to organizations which they can leverage as a communication and engagement channel. Two-way texting is a convenient, fast, effective, and affordable communication resource for stakeholder engagement. For more information, visit www.dialoghealth.com, call (877) 666-1132, and follow Dialog Health on LinkedIn.


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