WE ARE COMMITTED TO IMPROVING COMMUNICATION AND DELIVERING RESULTS

Texting has the highest open rate of any other channel of communication.  

It is the most widely used channel of communication today. Dialog Health platform is transforming how businesses communicate with their customers. 

 

DISCOVER COMPANIES LIKE YOURS SEEING REAL RESULTS USING DIALOG HEALTH SOLUTIONS

46K

SUPPORTIVE TEXTS SENT TO EMPLOYEES DURING FIRST 2 WEEKS OF THE ONSITE OF COVID-19 

The Dialog Health platform allowed Lovelace to communicate quickly and efficiently to nearly 3,600 employees. Between March 15 and March 31, Lovelace sent more than 46,000 messages at the onset of COVID-19 pandemic. The messages we supportive, inspirational and resource filled improving the morale of the staff.

 – Lovelace Health System

75K

PHONE CALLS ELIMINATED IN 60 DAYS - INCLUDING NEGATIVE COVID-19 TEST RESULTS

Within the first 60 days of implementing live text messages to inform patients of COVID-19 negative results, CareSpot was able to eliminate the need for its physicians to make more than 75,000 phone calls. This allowed CareSpot physicians to spend more time providing services to patients.

 – CareSpot Urgent Care System

65K

SMS SENT - TWO-WAY TEXTING PROVIDED NEW ERA OF AGENCY-WIDE, EMPLOYEE AND ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION 

“CATS achieved and fulfilled its communications directives by introducing the Dialog Health two-way texting platform. We are now able to communicate, inform and roll-out messaging involving our employee benefit offerings, employment engagement activities, emergency notifications, changes involving transit scheduling, and most recently, information with respect to COVID-19, across the organization.”

 –Jim F., Capital Area Transit System

34%

REDUCED NO-SHOWS BY 34% DRASTICALLY INCREASING REVENUE

“Dialog Health has been a great addition to communicate with our patients. It has allowed us to connect much more efficiently without any of the regular issues that present with conventional communication. I would recommend the system because it has so many different functions from decreasing no-shows to notifying our patients of last-minute office changes due to weather delays.”

 – Braxton H., Medical Office Coordinator

92%

REDUCED POST-OP CALLS BY 92% AND SAVED STAFF TIME

“Dialog Health saved my staff from having to make more than 3,250 calls which has substantially impacted our FTE per case.  From a PACU workflow standpoint, the productivity gains we have seen using Dialog Health system have been significant.” 

 –Nelson Rue, Administrator, Baptist Plaza Surgicare

4K+

SENT TEXT MESSAGES TO OVER 4,000 PEOPLE SIMULTANEOUSLY IN JUST 10 MINUTES

“The Dialog Health platform has brought a new light to the way we communicate with our patients. Outside the appointment reminders, this platform has provided my clinic with the ability to communicate with a mass amount of patients in a very short amount of time. With the ability to send mass texts to specific patients, we have dramatically reduced the number of hours spent on the phone and minimized the stress level within my staff.”

 –Austin R., Clinic Manager

78%

OVER 78% ENROLLMENT RESPONSE RATE AND REDUCED ACQUISITION COSTS

“Dialog Health provided the perfect delivery method for our mobile compatible enrollment website, resulting in the elimination of costly onsite enrollments, worksite disruption and with a much higher participation rate than hosting voluntary benefits on benefit admin systems,”

– Tom Smith, Founder of VBA and developer of www.HighLowOrNo.com voluntary benefits enrollment platform.

54%

INCREASED CASH FLOW BY REDUCING ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLES BY 54% IN JUST 6 WEEKS

“By working with Dialog Health, we were able to reduce the outstanding balances by over half in about six weeks. My staff found the direct texting to be far more efficient and pleasant than making many phone calls, and not having to send letters reduced our expenses.”

- Barry Cullen, Regional Vice President, USPI

95%

THOUSANDS OF EMERGENCY MESSAGES DURING HURRICANE HARVEY AND IRMA…REDUCING STAFF PHONE TIME BY 95%

“The Dialog Health platform was essential during Hurricane Irma. With mandatory and voluntary evacuations taking place during the state of emergency...the only way to reach our employees was on their mobile phones. The two-way texting platform was a quick way for us to do headcount checks, identify which staff had evacuated, and confirm employees were safe and accounted for. We also used the system to keep staff apprised of office closures and re-openings.”

- Amy Southerland Lugar, HUB International Southeast

 

DIALOG HEALTH - IN THE NEWS

ASC Focus article - Dialog Health's Text

ASC FOCUS

August 7, 2020

 

Drop a Text - Communicate money matters with your patients like financial institutions do

ASCs can benefit from using texts for many reasons beyond improving patient communications about financial matters, for example:

  • reminding patients about their scheduled surgery and when they should arrive at the ASC

  • reducing pre- and post-operative calls

  • directing patients to online education about surgical preparation

  • reminding patients of transportation 
    requirements

  • encouraging patients to complete a post-operative survey, which includes a link to leave a review online

BECKERS HOSPITAL REVIEW DIALOG HEALTH 5

BECKER'S

HOSPITAL REVIEW

October 15, 2020

 

5 emergency communication lessons hospitals earned from COVID-19

EndoEconomics features Dialog Health Tex

EndoEconomics

May 4, 2020

 

Texting for improving GI Patient Recall Programs

Dialog Health Becker's ASC review Best P

BECKER'S

ASC REVIEW

March 11, 2020

 

Critical coronavirus text communications for healthcare facilities

Becker's hospital review features Dialog

BECKER'S

HOSPITAL REVIEW

September 3, 2019

 

3 ways hospital HR departments benefit from texting

Dialog Health in ASC Focus Magaize Feb 2

ASC FOCUS

MAGAZINE

February 2019

 

Improve Patient Engagement with Two-Way Texting. Advantages of replacing voicemails with electronic messaging.

Dialog Health Becker's Hospital Review u

BECKER'S

ASC REVIEW

June 19, 2020

 

8 ways for hospitals to use text messaging for employee engagement

Nashville Post features Dialog Health Te

Nashville Post

April 14, 2020

 

Local telehealth businesses are booming during pandemic

Dialog Health featured in Becker's ASC P

BECKER'S

ASC REVIEW

February 11, 2020

 

10 reasons text reminders can be a GI recall program game-changer.

PHYSICIANS

PRACTICE

October 3, 2019

 

7 benefits of two-way text messaging with patients

ASCA PRESENTS

ASCA 2019

 

Dialog Health had the opportunity to present on improving patient engagement solutions with two-way texting. Sharing real results ASC are getting with improving their patient engagement.

Becker's ASC REVIEW DIALOG HEALTH TEXTIN

BECKER'S

ASC REVIEW

May 19, 2020

 

Reopening patient communications under COVID-19: 8 messages for ASCs

physicians%20practice%20features%20Dialo

PHYSICIANS PRACTICE

March 26, 2020

 

5 ways texting makes telehealth simpler and more effective

Diagnostic Imaging article featuring Dia

DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING

March 5, 2020

 

Two-way texting: The simple, effective way to reduce radiology revenue loss.

Becker's Hospital Review features Dialog

BECKER'S

HOSPITAL REVIEW

June 19, 2019

 

8 reasons why hospitals need a patient texting platform

HR DISRUPT CONVENTION

December 2018

 

Employee engagement is too important to take a chance with your communication. Texting technology drastically improves employee communication.

 

RESULTS - CASE STUDY

CASE STUDY: REACHING REMOTE EMPLOYEES - SENT OVER 65K SMS

ADDED TWO-WAY TEXTING PROVIDED NEW ERA OF AGENCY-WIDE, EMPLOYEE AND ORGANIZATIONAL COMMUNICATION 

“CATS achieved and fulfilled its communications directives by introducing the Dialog Health two-way texting platform. We are now able to communicate, inform and roll-out messaging involving our employee benefit offerings, employment engagement activities, emergency notifications, changes involving transit scheduling, and most recently, information with respect to COVID-19, across the organization.”

 –Jim F., Capital Area Transit System

THE PROBLEM: 

When a transportation enterprise decided to begin using a new human resources (HR) portal during benefits enrollment, the company realized that getting their long-haul trucker employees to use the portal during the narrow enrollment period would be a challenge given the majority of did not use email and were on the road most of the time.

THE SOLUTION: 

In cooperation with its insurance brokers, the company decided to deploy two-way texting so all employees could receive text messages with the link to the new HR portal on their phones. The two-way texting platform could also remind employees when open enrollment was starting and ending and provide additional updates, as needed.

THE RESULTS: 

The Dialog Health two-way text messaging platform allowed the HR department to communicate quickly and efficiently to nearly 4,000 employees. A link to the new HR portal shared via text message was clicked more than 4,500 times during the open enrollment period. Considering only 6% of employees opted out of receiving texts, utilization of the texted link was well over 100%. In a single month, over 20,000 texts were sent that informed employees of their benefit options, open enrollment dates, and links to easily select their benefit plans.

THE CONCLUSION: 

Dialog Health two-way mobile messaging platform is an efficient and cost-effective way to communicate to all staff with a mobile phone and who elect to remain opted in for texting. Considering that 97% of mobile phones can access the internet, including a link made it simple for the enterprise to engage with its employees and direct them to the HR portal.

EXAMPLES OF TEXT SENT: 

•TRANSPORT CO: Hi Fred! Benefits Open Enrollment begins TODAY. Benefits Open Enrollment allows you to elect or make changes to your employee benefits. Let our HR portal help you choose the best plans: bit.ly/MYBenefits. Make your final decisions through your standard benefit enrollment method on or before October 31. If you have questions, please call HR.

•TRANSPORT CO: Fred, don't delay! Enroll before Oct 31 for benefits. Review your benefits options here: bit.ly/MYBenefits and then make your final decisions TODAY through your standard benefit enrollment method.

•TRANSPORT CO: Tomorrow is the LAST DAY to enroll or make changes to your benefits. Review your benefits options here: bit.ly/MYBenefits Use your standard benefit enrollment method to make benefit decisions TODAY.

CASE STUDY: STAFF SUPPORT TEXTS DURING COVID-19

LOVELACE HEALTH SYSTEM USES DIALOG HEALTH TO COMMUNICATE COVID-19 UPDATES AND SEND SUPPORT MESSAGES TO STAFF

THE PROBLEM: 

When COVID-19 hit, Lovelace Health System in New Mexico realized that its ability to effectively communicate with all of its staff was insufficient to handle the ever-changing and updating guidelines being issued by federal, state, local, and even corporate authorities.

THE SOLUTION: 

Lovelace decided to deploy two-way text messaging so all employees could receive timely messages with relevant updates on their phones. The two-way texting platform provided leadership with the ability to send messages with updates, inspirational quotes, and reminders about key employee resources, such as the system's employee assistance program.

THE RESULTS: 

The Dialog Health platform allowed Lovelace to communicate quickly and efficiently to nearly 3,600 employees. Between March 15 and March 31, Lovelace sent more than 46,000 messages, such as:

Lovelace: As we enter another week of challenges during this crisis, we encourage you to take this opportunity to embrace the time with your family and loved ones, to find ways to help others and take time for yourself, knowing that we will get through this period.

 

Lovelace: Be sure to review the updated PPE guidelines in light of COVID-19 with your manager to ensure you have appropriate protection at work.

 

Lovelace: During the COVID-19 pandemic, it's important to clean commonly touched surfaces, such as your cell phone's screen. Apple, Google, and others are recommending the use of 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. PLEASE check with your manufacturer for specific instructions.

 

Lovelace: Looking for a way to help your fellow New Mexicans? Give blood at our drive in the parking lot behind Lovelace Women's Hospital on Thursday, July 2, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., at 101 Hospital Loop. Call 505.246.XXXX for info.

THE CONCLUSION: 

The Dialog Health two-way mobile messaging platform has proven to be an efficient and cost-effective way to communicate with all staff who have a mobile phone and chose to remain opted in for texting. Lovelace continues to use the platform daily and is exploring ways to further leverage text messaging for staff communications.

Lovelace: During this challenging time, we want you to know that we are appreciative of everything you do and the sacrifices that have been made. Your selflessness is a reflection of our patient care and represents the best of our centers." 

CASE STUDY: TEXTING SAVED STAFF FROM MAKING OVER 75,000 CALLS

URGENT CARE COMPANY USES DIALOG HEALTH TEXTING PLATFORM TO COMMUNICATE NEGATIVE COVID-19 TEST RESULTS

THE PROBLEM: 

When CareSpot Urgent Care began performing COVID-19 tests in spring 2020, its physicians were finding that they were spending a few hours every day making phone calls just to tell patients that their test results came back negative.

THE SOLUTION: 

CareSpot decided to leverage live-texting feature of the Dialog Health HIPAA-compliant, two-way text messaging platform. This allowed physicians to send texts to patients letting them know that their COVID-19 test results were normal. CareSpot was already using live texting to communicate with patients about normal results for other studies, so the addition of a COVID-19-related text was simple to set up and deploy.

THE RESULTS: 

Within the first 60 days of implementing live text messages to inform patients of COVID-19 negative results, CareSpot was able to eliminate the need for its physicians to make more than 75,000 phone calls. This allowed CareSpot physicians to spend more time providing services to patients.

THE CONCLUSION: 

The Dialog Health two-way mobile messaging platform has proven to be an efficient and cost-effective means of freeing up valuable physician time by reducing the need for physicians to communicate with patients via phone calls, which are time- and resource-intensive process. CareSpot, its physicians, and patients also benefit since the urgent care centers using the live-texting feature for COVID-19 have more time available to schedule appointments and provide services.

CASE STUDY: REDUCE NO-SHOWS

PHYSICIAN GROUP USES DIALOG HEALTH TO HELP REDUCE NO-SHOWS WITH PATIENTS BY 34% AND GREW REVENUE BY $100,000. 

THE PROBLEM: 

The physician services division of a large health system had a goal of reducing appointment no shows in 2015. Missed appointments were costing them considerable time and money. The primary form of appointment related communication was automated phone calls.

THE SOLUTION: 

The physician services division implemented a two-way real time text messaging platform from Dialog Health. The platform provides clinics the ability to engage patients via automated messaging, ad hoc (group) messaging and direct text messaging. The system has proven the ability to increase revenue, decrease costs, improve staff workflow and enhance patient satisfaction.

THE RESULTS: 

The Dialog Health solution dropped the collective no-show rate by 34%, from 7.64% in December 2014 to 5.03% in June of 2015. The Physician’s group has projected $100,000 in additional revenue.

THE CONCLUSION: 

Dialog Health two-way mobile messaging platform has proven to be an efficient and cost effective way to reduce no-shows and increase revenue.

“Dialog Health has been a great addition to communicate with our patients. It has allowed us to connect much more efficiently without any of the regular issues that present with conventional communication. I would recommend the system because it has so many different functions from decreasing no-shows to notifying our patients of last-minute office changes due to weather delays.”

 – Braxton H., Medical Office Coordinator

CASE STUDY: REDUCE PHONE CALLS

AMBULATORY SURGERY CENTER USES DIALOG HEALTH TO HELP REDUCE POST-OP CALLS BY 92%. 

THE PROBLEM: 

Post-op staff at a high volume surgery center struggled to get patients on the phone the day after surgery to check in on them. Staff were making on average 2.5 calls to each patient to ask the required post-op questions regarding nausea, pain, and relative well being. The typical call lasts about 6 minutes. Staff were also spending unproductive time leaving voicemail messages and most often recalling multiple times before finally getting the patient on the phone.

THE SOLUTION: 

The ASC implemented Dialog Health’s two-way real time text-messaging solution. They immediately automated the delivery of a “1 day post-op” follow-up text survey that would replace the phone call if the patient responded positively to the questions. Dialog Health worked with the quality professionals at the ASC to design the questions to meet the requirements of recent QAPI changes.

THE RESULTS: 

Over a 4 month period from April to July 2015, 1,768 patients opted-in for text reminder messages. 1,411 (80%) patients responded to the post-op text questions. 1,301 (92%) patients responded YES to all of the questions, and saved the cost of the time necessary to make post-op phone calls. 101 (8%) patients responded NO to at least one of the questions so the center called the patient. Overall, Dialog Health reduced post-op calls by 92%.

THE CONCLUSION: 

Dialog Health’s two-way mobile messaging platform has proven to significantly improve sta workflow and productivity through its unique text survey capabilities.

“Given we average about 2.5 calls per patient during post-op follow up, the 1,301 patients who responded YES to the texts sent by Dialog Health saved my sta­ from having to make more than 3,250 calls which has substantially impacted our FTE per case. From a PACU workflow standpoint, the productivity gains we have seen using Dialog Health have been significant and my nurses now concentrate on doing what we do best...care for our patients.”

 

-Nelson Rue, Administrator, Baptist Plaza Surgicare

CASE STUDY: EMERGENCY / MASS COMMUNICATIONS

PHYSICIAN GROUP USES DIALOG HEALTH TO HELP ALERT THOUSANDS OF PATIENTS WITHIN MINUTES DRASTICALLY REDUCING STAFF PHONE CALLS.  

THE PROBLEM: 

A major practice was having diffIculty  communicating quickly with patients, staff, and  providers when unexpected events happened—  increasing stress, confusion, and costs due to  miscommunication and the chaos it caused.

THE SOLUTION: 

The practice implemented Dialog Health’s Ad Hoc mobile messaging solution to send messages to a specific segment of the patient, staff, and provider population.

THE RESULTS: 

Using the Dialog Health Ad Hoc mobile messaging solution, the administrator sent 4,706 messages for 1 practice in 3 locations instead of using phone calls to reach the same population. Total time spent by administrator: less than 10 minutes. The Ad Hoc solution is also a great incentive to get patients to OPT-IN, which in turn increases patient satisfaction.

THE CONCLUSION: 

Dialog Health’s two-way mobile messaging platform has proven to drastically reduce staff workload and reach thousands of patients in minutes.

“The Dialog Health platform has brought a new light to the way we communicate with our patients. Outside the appointment reminders, this platform has provided my clinic with the ability to communicate with a mass amount of patients in a very short amount of time. Throughout this year, we have had multiple cases of inclement weather or ill providers where we had to communicate with our patients that would potentially be affected. With the ability to send mass texts to specific patients, we have dramatically reduced the number of hours spent on the phone and minimized the stress level within my staff.”

 

-Austin R., Clinic Manager

CASE STUDY: INCREASED BENEFITS ENROLLMENT AND REDUCED ACQUISITION COSTS

Broker recommends to Employer HR department to use Dialog Health two-way text solution to eliminate onsite disruption and costly benefit admin buildout for voluntary benefit enrollment. The text messages also kept voluntary plans non-ERISA. The process dramatically reduced acquisition cost and generated $100 of annual revenue per eligible employee.

THE PROBLEM: 

An Employer with more than 3,000 employees realized that hosting voluntary benefits on their benefit admin system was not only costly but was resulting in very low participation and potentially triggered ERISA plan requirements. Enrollment deadlines were often missed as Employees did not respond to reminder emails in a timely manner or did not engage with marketing collateral that was distributed. Also, Employers found onsite enrollment visits caused worksite disruption with limited engagement.

THE SOLUTION: 

The insurance broker recommended the Employer use Dialog Health’s two-way mobile messaging platform for enrollment related communication. The Employer deployed Dialog Health’s two-way texting solution letting Employees know that Annual Enrollment had begun and that they MUST accept or decline voluntary benefits by a certain date. Given that over 90% of mobile phones have access to the internet, the text messages included a direct link to a third party voluntary benefits website and the access code for the Employee. This allowed the Employees to log on and enroll directly from their mobile device. The texts focused on two distinct campaigns: Accident/CI/Identity Theft and Life/Long Term Care. If an Employee had not completed enrollment by a set date, they were sent a 2nd text reminding them that enrollment was not completed and again giving them a link to the benefits website in the text. Importantly, the website was set-up as a bit.ly link so that the company could track the number of clicks on the link sent via the text messages.

THE RESULTS: 

As a result of using Dialog Health’s two-way texting solution the Employer drastically increased engagement with their voluntary benefits enrollment campaign. The Accident/CI/Identity Theft campaign, 9399 SMS texts were sent with over 78% of employees logging into the enrollment website (7385 responses). For the Life/Long Term Care campaign, 57% of employees logged in and accepted or declined coverage (1786 responses to the 3139 texts sent). Also, the text included a direct link to a third-party enrollment system that was clicked on over 60% of the time.

THE CONCLUSION: 

The Dialog Health two-way mobile messaging platform has proven to be a highly effective and very cost-efficient way to inform and engage Employees of voluntary benefits, keep plans non-ERISA and directly link them to a third party voluntary benefits website where they can accept or decline coverage.

“Dialog Health provided the perfect delivery method for our mobile compatible enrollment website, resulting in the elimination of costly onsite enrollments, worksite disruption and with a much higher participation rate than hosting voluntary benefits on benefit admin systems,”

 

- Tom Smith, Founder of VBA and developer of www.HighLowOrNo.com voluntary benefits enrollment platform.

CASE STUDY: IMPROVE REVENUE COLLECTION

Ambulatory surgery center uses Dialog Health to help reduce outstanding accounts receivables with patients from $110,000 to $48,000 in just 6 weeks.

THE PROBLEM: 

Chasing up payments from patients can be an expensive, time consuming, and inefficient process. Employees at a high volume surgery center attempted multiple calls and sent multiple letters in hopes of reaching the patients who had payments that were past due. As of October 1, 2016, the facility had $110,000 in outstanding accounts receivables with patients.

THE SOLUTION: 

The ASC which was already using Dialog Health’s two-way real time text messaging platform for appointment related communication added messages to the Dialog Health platform to remind patients that a payment was due. Employees were able to send direct texts to the patient instead of making multiple phone calls or mailing billing correspondences. Importantly, the text messages included a link to their payment portal and a phone number the patient could call if they had any questions.

THE RESULTS: 

The ASC was able to reduce their outstanding accounts receivable balance from $110,000 to $48,000 in just six weeks by using the Dialog Health platform. Employees also had more time to focus on other tasks at the facility instead of making phone calls and generating and mailing reminder invoices.

THE CONCLUSION: 

Dialog Health two-way mobile messaging platform has proven to be an efficient and cost effective way to improve the collection of accounts receivables from patients.

“The Dialog Health platform is an invaluable part of our e orts to improve our payment collections process. By working with Dialog Health, we were able to reduce the outstanding balances by over half in about six weeks. My sta found the direct texting to be far more ecient and pleasant than making many phone calls, and not having to send letters reduced our expenses. Not only has the Dialog Health platform been extremely cost e ective, but feedback from our patients has been positive in that they find a text reminder less of a hassle and more welcoming than a phone call.”

 

- Barry Cullen, Regional Vice President, USPI

95%

THOUSANDS OF EMERGENCY MESSAGES DURING HURRICANE HARVEY AND IRMA…REDUCING STAFF PHONE TIME BY 95%

“The Dialog Health platform was essential during Hurricane Irma. With mandatory and voluntary evacuations taking place during the state of emergency...the only way to reach our employees was on their mobile phones. The two-way texting platform was a quick way for us to do headcount checks, identify which staff had evacuated, and confirm employees were safe and accounted for. We also used the system to keep staff apprised of office closures and re-openings.”

- Amy Southerland Lugar, HUB International Southeast

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

IN THE NEWS - FULL ARTICLES

BECKER'S HOSPITAL REVIEW

5 emergency communication lessons hospitals learned from COVID-19

The data on COVID-19 doesn't look good. A recent USA Today analysis showed that nearly 80% of the states reported more coronavirus cases than they had in the week before.

Nine states set seven-day records for infections, while Wisconsin and Hawaii reported record numbers of deaths in their states for a seven-day period. We're witnessing more hotspots as states continue to proceed with reopening plans and people experience fatigue with recommended safety measures.

This surge in COVID-19 infections, paired with the flu season, may lead to what some are calling a "nightmare" winter scenario that may further overwhelm hospitals and lead to new shutdowns and restrictions on the delivery of healthcare services. Even a best-case scenario will still result in challenges and increased pressures for hospitals. Before matters get much worse, now is the time for hospitals and health systems to strengthen their emergency communication plan, practices, and processes.

In speaking with our hospital and health system clients, they say one of the reasons their organizations have successfully navigated the health crisis thus far is by prioritizing effective communication with patients, staff, and vendor partners. These clients have done so by leveraging a variety of mechanisms, including text messaging, to get out timely information and updates.

The experiences thus far of hospitals working to manage the health crisis have taught us a great deal about what must happen if hospitals and health systems want to put themselves in the best position to respond effectively to the challenges of the fall, winter, and beyond. Here are five lessons hospitals have learned from the pandemic that can help improve your organization's emergency communication plan.

1. Address vulnerabilities due to reduction of in-person communication
Hospitals are working to reduce the amount of in-person communication occurring in their facilities to the bare minimum to help limit the potential spread of the novel coronavirus. While this is undoubtedly worthwhile from a safety perspective, it can present challenges in coordinating an emergency response, including how to quickly and effectively bring the emergency response team together, hold briefings, coordinate efforts, assign staff responsibilities (if any are unclear), and address questions from stakeholders.

For hospitals that struggled with activating and executing elements of emergency operations plans due to restrictions and/or limitations on in-person communication, it is imperative that any such vulnerabilities be addressed. For hospitals with text messaging, key management issues involving situational status, specific incident characteristics, and resource capabilities, among other issues, can be quickly communicated. In addition, text messaging can help support efforts to properly execute the core elements of the emergency operations plan, including activation, assessment, notifications (more on this below), resource requests, and staff and resource tracking.

2. Attend to emergency communication weaknesses
The initial weeks that followed the pandemic declaration put hospital emergency preparedness plans to the test. Some came up short. Hospitals that struggled with their communication often found they lacked an effective and efficient ability to inform staff, patients, vendors, and others about the rapidly changing guidelines and safety protocols. Communication mechanisms typically relied upon to provide timely updates (e.g., phone, email, intranet, website) helped, but they also struggled to either disseminate that information to targeted recipients in a timely fashion or effectively ensure information was read (discussed further below).

When a hospital must get a time-sensitive message out to a significant number of stakeholders fast and with a high degree of confidence that the message will be received and processed, our clients know there's no better means than texting. We say the time to deploy text messaging is before it's needed. If your hospital or health system is not already using a texting platform or has not tapped into it for emergency communication purposes, the time to add or activate this valuable mechanism is now.

3. Never assume an emergency message is received
When hospitals were forced to rapidly scale back their operations, there was a scramble to inform everyone affected. This included patients who had treatments postponed to staff members who were directed to remain home or still come into the facility to vendors whose appointments were canceled. Hospitals and health systems lacking text messaging typically relied upon a mix of emails, phone calls, and online posts.

Unfortunately, these mechanisms often left hospitals unsure about whether messaged were received or read. Research shows that phone calls are increasingly ignored, largely due to robocall fatigue. Americans received about 58.5 billion robocalls in 2019, up from about 48 billion in 2018, according to YouMail. There are no assurances of when — or even if — voicemails will be listened to. When stakeholders missed messages providing new instructions, they typically proceeded with original plans of coming to the facility, only to learn departments were closed and appointments and shifts were canceled. This was frustrating and led to an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Two-way text messaging is an effective mechanism for helping hospitals significantly reduce the chance that a message will be missed. This mechanism allows senders to prompt recipients to respond to a message via text. If a hospital wants to confirm that recipients received a message, they can request a simple reply of "yes" and the text messaging platform will record the confirmation. If any recipients fail to respond within a set amount of time (e.g., one hour), hospitals can reach out via phone and/or email. Considering more than 96% of Americans own a mobile phone of some kind, all of which can text, the number of people who will require outreach via another mechanism will be significantly lower.

Another benefit of using texting: If the information that needs to reach recipients is too long for a text or must be provided in a format other than text, hospitals can include a hyperlink to this information in the text message.

4. Prepare for before, during, and after the emergency
Significant attention around emergency preparedness is paid to executing the initial response. What often receives less attention is what must happen next, both during and following the emergency. Hospitals focused heavily on responding to the announcement of the pandemic and subsequent guidelines and recommendations, including halting non-essential services and developing ways to safely reduce the number of in-house staff.

Once this work was accomplished, some hospitals took a "wait-and-see approach" to developments. Unfortunately, this was lost time that could have helped organizations prepare for those efforts that would be required for a successful reopening and resumption of operations. As states announced easing of restrictions and hospitals began receiving information about when they could expect to begin resuming services, some found themselves rushing to get messaging and updates out to affected stakeholders. This is an essential component of a business continuity plan.

For patients whose treatments were affected, these details covered everything from the date when the department would reopen/services would resume and how that would affect their appointments, what they needed to do to reschedule appointments, and changes to policies and procedures that patients and visitors would need to follow. Hospitals with telehealth programs also worked to spread the word about the availability of such services.

For staff, information disseminated covered everything from scheduling of shifts, new policies and procedures, steps management was taking to better ensure facility-wide safety, and availability of services to help staff during the challenging time, including COVID-19 testing and mental health support (discussed below). For vendors, messages spoke to rescheduling of appointments and changes to policies and procedures representatives would need to follow during on-site visits.

In the days and weeks that followed the initial reopening phase, what was understood about COVID-19 evolved, affecting how hospitals adjusted their rules and guidelines. As this language changed, affected stakeholders needed to be informed. This often meant significant time spent on phone calls — sometimes multiple calls, if initial calls were missed — and emails that may or may not have been read.

For those hospitals using text messaging, providing frequently changing updates to a majority of affected stakeholders proved simpler and effective. The process: open the texting platform, write the message, select targeted stakeholders, click send. Recipients learned about how to reschedule appointments, masking requirements, new pre-screening policies, and more. The texting platforms could confirm the delivery of the messages, with two-way texting helping document when recipients acknowledged the message. Staff tasked with relying this information — already stressed and often at reduced capacity — had their responsibility workload greatly reduced, permitting more time to focus on other urgent matters. Hospitals were able to ramp back up their operations more easily and begin capturing needed revenue.

As a second wave, coupled with the flu season, looms large, hospitals must strengthen the plan for how they will respond to a potential return of operational restrictions and identify what they can do to simplify and streamline reopening and resuming operations. Text messaging should be an essential part of this planning.

5. Don't overlook the value of staff support
The final emergency communication lesson learned from COVID-19 that will be highlighted in this column is the importance of providing emotional support to staff during times of great stress. As essential as it is for hospitals and health systems to keep staff educated about specific changes to their work schedule, policies, and procedures as well as other developments that affect daily operations, it is perhaps just as important for leaders and manages to remind staff that their hard work and dedication to patient care during such a difficult time is noticed and appreciated.

A growing number of our hospital and health systems clients are sending emotional and inspirational support text messages to personnel to provide a lift to staff members' mental health. For example, New Mexico's Lovelace Health System sent more than 46,000 text messages to staff over a two-week stretch in March. These messages covered a range of topics, including changes to protocols, reminders about safety practices, and information concerning the employee assistance program as well as many uplifting messages and inspirational quotes.

Serena Pettes, vice president of marketing and business development for the health system, stated, "Sending texts to our employees … during COVID-19 has been an easy, quick, and effective way to provide support, encouragement, and guidance during a challenging time."

The benefits of a simple message of appreciation can make a significant difference in morale while also boosting productivity.

Enhance Emergency Communication With Text Messaging
Communication is one of the most important aspects of emergency preparedness and business continuity. When a hospital or health system can communicate effectively and in a timely manner about what staff, patients, and vendors must do in response to rapidly changing developments, execution of an emergency plan becomes easier and more successful. Text messaging helps make this happen.

BECKER'S HOSPITAL REVIEW

8 ways for hospitals to use text messaging for employee engagement

Over the past several years, we have witnessed an increasing adoption of text messaging as an essential communication channel for hospitals and health systems as well as many other types of healthcare providers. For those organizations with texting technology, they are finding that this is a time when the value and effectiveness of the resource truly shines.

Throughout the nation, hospitals are reopening departments and affiliated facilities (e.g., ambulatory surgery centers, medical practices), changing procedures, updating remote work policies, and needing to share constantly changing information with personnel. For those hospitals that are leveraging text messaging, resuming operations is proving more streamlined and successful. And in a mobile-led world where employee engagement has become an essential strategy, text messaging is a necessity.

Here are eight ways hospitals can leverage text messaging to improve staff engagement, communication, and satisfaction.

1. Emergencies
The pandemic has reminded us of the importance of business resilience planning and the need for an effective emergency communication channel to support such a program. Text messaging is a fast, effective way of keeping personnel current on expectations. It is also valuable in the event that a hospital must quickly inform staff of a significant development, such as a team member testing positive for COVID-19.

Additional examples of how texting supports emergency communication includes announcing facility closures, natural disaster developments, and other urgent COVID-19 updates.

2. Mass/Group Announcements
Hospitals can use mass or group texting to inform personnel about changes to policies and procedures, such as those concerning screening and wearing of personal protective equipment. Another effective use of mass texting capability is to remind personnel about the need to avoid coming into work if they are not well. Hospitals can also use texting to send links to updated policies and procedures if these documents are accessible online via the hospital's website or employee portal.

Additional examples of how hospitals can use mass or group texting includes announcing revised hours of operation, new staff arrival procedures, updated staff schedules, changes to vendor visit protocols, and a positive COVID-19 result.

3. Surveys
During a crisis, healthcare personnel look for their leadership to convey ongoing compassion and concern for their wellbeing. Leadership is looking for staff to quickly provide information and feedback that can help guide timely decisions. Both can be accomplished using surveys conducted via text message.

Whether you are sending a link to a survey or asking for an immediate rating or a vote, texting has proven to have a higher engagement rate than other communication methods. Leadership can quickly assess staff comfort with new policies and procedures, determine if staff have the resources needed to perform their jobs safely and effectively, request feedback on new initiatives, and more. Leveraging targeted pulse surveys will help you evaluate the effectiveness of your hospital's response to the pandemic.

If personnel experience a communication gap, you run the risk that they will come up with their own narrative about internal and external problems and priorities. Now is the time to communicate clearly and frequently about where your hospital is going and how it is going to get there.

4. Health Plan, Provider, and Benefits Information
The pandemic has made the general population more acutely aware of their health. It has also shined a spotlight on health coverage. Hospitals can use text messaging to provide staff with timely information and answers to frequently asked questions concerning their sponsored health insurance. This can include matters such as where personnel and covered family members can go to receive a COVID-19 test, the availability of mental health services (i.e., employee assistance programs), and options for telehealth.

Automating a series of texts to go out before open enrollment starts and throughout the enrollment period is a simple and effective way to increase engagement during open enrollment. Many hospitals also use automated text campaigns to drive engagement with sponsored health and wellness initiatives.

5. Telehealth Providers and Information
According to the 2019 Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, almost 9 out of 10 large employers offer a telemedicine program to their members. While utilization was growing slowly, COVID-19 has rapidly advanced the model.

Text messaging is the most effective way for to communicate with personnel about their telehealth options and encourage them to take advantage of these virtual services. There is little to no learning curve to use telehealth as most have used videotelephony programs (e.g., FaceTime, Skype, Facebook Messenger). There is no need for someone to have wi-fi, a computer, speakers, or even be at home to access telehealth services through their mobile phone.

In addition, reminding personnel about their covered telehealth options reinforces your investment in their safety and virtual care benefits. Even if staff choose not to take advantage of the service, there is comfort knowing that the option is available should they choose to pursue it.

6. Language Preference
Communicating in the preferred language of personnel — whether communicating to them or receiving communication from them — eliminates language barriers. Hospitals should seek out a text messaging platform that supports multiple language options.

Sending text messages using a team member's preferred language will drastically enhance communication and achieve higher engagement.

7. COVID-19 Updates and Resources
Staying current with the latest local and national developments concerning COVID-19 is difficult, but it is essential that personnel understand the guidelines they are expected to follow when traveling to, from, and at work as well as outside of work to reduce safety risks. To make this easier, hospitals can use text messaging to provide personnel with COVID-19 updates.

Hospitals can choose to make reviewing these materials mandatory and require staff to attest via text message replies that they have received and reviewed the information.

8. Emotional Support
To provide emotional and inspirational support to personnel during this unprecedented and uncertain time, hospitals are using text messaging. We believe the value of supportive text messages can be underestimated, but that is changing as mental health is increasingly strained because of the health crisis and other challenges. Sending an uplifting text message can have a positive impact on mental health. Here are a few examples of text messages hospitals are sending to help lift the spirits of their team members.

"Sometimes we are tested not to show our weaknesses but to discover our strengths" – John F. Kennedy. As you know we have been tested these past few weeks, but it's the confidence we have in our team that assures us we will return from this stronger and better than before. Until that time, please know we are wishing you and yours good health.

During this challenging time, we want you to know that we appreciate everything you do and the sacrifices that have been made. Your selflessness represents the best of our organization. We look forward to coming back together as soon as possible, but in the meantime, we wish you good health.

Text Messaging to Help Traverse the "New Normal"
Text messaging is a proven method for communication and improving staff engagement and satisfaction, among other benefits. As text messaging has become the preferred communication method for a growing number of Americans, hospitals and health system should evaluate how they can incorporate two-way text messaging as a communication platform or further expand its existing use during this transitional period.

BECKER'S ASC REVIEW

Reopening patient communications under COVID-19: 8 messages for ASCs

Back in March, on the day the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, we worked with our clients to identify seven critical messages ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) should consider sharing with patients, staff, vendors, and other visitors coming to their facilities.

These messages focused on safety, with the column highlighting why text messaging was the most effective means of delivering this time-sensitive information.

More than two months have passed, and now ASCs that greatly reduced or temporarily ceased operations during this health crisis are beginning to reopen or planning how to do so in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, ASCs are encountering challenges with resuming their operations, including how to communicate with patients. Not only must ASCs reach out to patients to schedule procedures that were delayed and backlogged, but surgery centers must also explain new safety protocols. This is proving difficult. Many ASCs are lacking the staff bandwidth to effectively perform such outreach and education due to reduced staffing levels and increased staff responsibilities, including performing patient screening and testing.

 

Furthermore, preoperative phone calls that would typically only take a few minutes prior to the health crisis are taking substantially longer for a few reasons. There is more safety information to discuss, patients are seeking assurance about their safety to help alleviate fears, and, for those ASCs choosing not to permit visitors to accompany patients into the center, information must be shared on the new discharge process. We are also hearing of patients eager to engage in longer phone calls because of loneliness and reduced human contact during the pandemic.

 

Key text messages for ASC patients
For ambulatory surgery centers with two-way text messaging capability, many of these challenges are greatly reduced or eliminated, helping ensure a more successful reopening and ramping up of operations. Here are eight examples of actual text messages ASCs are sending patients during this period, organized by the timing of the messaging. Note: Text messages have been edited to eliminate any identifying information.

 

Upon choosing a date to reopen
"We will be reopening Main Street ASC on June 1. You will be hearing from a member of our staff concerning the scheduling of your procedure. We will have new policies in place to help ensure your safety that we will share with you when we schedule your appointment."

 

When ready to schedule delayed procedures
"We are ready to reschedule your procedure. Please call 555-555-5555 to set up your appointment or you can schedule online at www.mainstreetschedule.com. Our new COVID-19 safety protocols have been posted to our website. You can read them at www.mainstreetsafety.com. All patients, staff, and visitors are expected to follow these protocols. We thank you for your help."

 

When ready to schedule backlogged procedures
"Main Street ASC has re-opened and our records show that it is time to schedule your annual colonoscopy. Please call 555-555-5555 to set up your appointment or you can schedule directly online at www.mainstreetschedule.com. Our new COVID-19 safety protocols have been posted to our website. You can read them at www.mainstreetsafety.com. All patients, staff, and visitors are expected to follow these protocols. We thank you for your help."

 

A few days prior to the procedure
"We are preparing for your visit to Main Street ASC. Please note the following: 1. Our staff are being assessed daily for any symptoms, exposure to others with symptoms, any travel, and/or any exposure to others who may have the virus. 2. All patients will be required to undergo a screening and COVID-19 test prior to admission. 3. No visitors will be allowed into the facility. Visitors will need to wait in their cars. Please reply to this message with a contact number for your driver. Nursing staff will call your driver when you are ready to be picked up. If you have questions about our new policies, please call us between 9AM and 7PM at 555-555-5555."

 

One day prior to the procedure
"Your procedure at Main Street ASC is tomorrow at [appointment time]. Please arrive 30 minutes prior to your procedure time. Please wear a mask upon arrival and review our new safety protocols at www.mainstreetsafety.com. Remember to bring your insurance card and a photo ID. Follow all instructions given to you about eating and drinking, as well as any preparation required. Please call your doctor's office if you have any questions regarding your prep directions. If you are currently experiencing a fever, cold, or flu symptoms, contact your physician's office to reschedule your procedure prior to taking your prep. You can also text reply RS to reschedule. Please call 555-555-5555 with questions. Thank you for your cooperation."

Morning of the procedure
"We look forward to seeing you soon. Reminder: Visitors will not be permitted into Main Street ASC. If you have not already, please provide a contact number for your driver. Our nursing staff will call your driver when you are ready to be picked up. If you need to reschedule, text reply RS or call us at 555-555-5555."

One week following the procedure
"Have you developed any COVID-19-related symptoms since your appointment at Main Street ASC? Please Reply YES or NO."

 

Following the procedure (if money owed)
"Just a friendly reminder that you have a bill past due. You can pay online at www.mainstreetbillpay.com or call 555-555-5555 to discuss your bill if you have any questions. Thank you."

 

There's no better time for ASCs to add text messaging
In a mobile-led world where patient engagement is an essential strategy, texting is a necessity. For those ambulatory surgery centers that leverage text messaging, resuming operations will prove more streamlined, safer, and ultimately successful. As texting has become the preferred communication method for a growing number of Americans, ASCs should evaluate how they can incorporate two-way text messaging as a communication platform to deliver key messages like those above or expand its use during this transitional period.

PHYSICIANS PRACTICE

5 ways texting makes telehealth simpler and more effective

The healthcare industry is faced with an existential threat to its traditional business model because of COVID-19.

Healthcare has always been a bricks and mortar industry built around face-to-face interactions. Patients schedule appointments and then show up in person to meet with their physicians or come into facilities for treatments or assessments. COVID-19 has made face-to-face interactions challenging and, for some, very high risk. 

As a result of social distancing and the need to limit such interactions, there is a sudden spotlight thrust onto telehealth. Telehealth represents an easy and viable way to replicate the face-to face-visit in some instances. Take the Medicare annual wellness visit (AWV), for example. Telehealth enables a physician (or other qualified healthcare professional) to provide a thorough AWV without the need for the patient to physically come into the office. The AWV consult via telehealth is a billable patient interaction. Telemedicine can also be used for virtual home health visits, post-discharge follow-up appointments, and initial patient assessments, to name a few covered services.

Virtual Challenges

While practices and other facility types are working to roll out telehealth services, they are encountering technical, accessibility, and engagement challenges. 

To address these challenges, there's no need to get creative. In fact, most patients also have the tool they need to take advantage of telehealth services: the mobile phone. According to Pew, 96 percent of U.S. adults own some form of a cellphone, with 81 percent owning a smartphone. Most can access the internet. This includes smartphones and flip phones. 

 

All of these phones have another important capability: the ability to receive and interact with text messages. Text messaging should be an essential part of any telehealth program.

A Surprisingly Easy Solution

 

Imagine sending a text message like this to a patient: 

MAINSTREET HEALTH: Hi John. Here is a link to your telehealth appointment scheduled for 10am today. Please click on this link to join the telehealth consultation: www.ZoomMTg/Link. Thank you.

Using a text to send a telehealth link to a patient makes telehealth more effective for the following five reasons:

  1. There is no hardware requirement for the patient. No computer is needed. No camera. No speakers. 

  2. There is no requirement for the patient to have wi-fi access. The mobile phone uses cellular data. People are increasingly migrating to plans with unlimited data.

  3. The patient does not need to be home and in front of a computer. They can be engaged wherever they are

  4. There is no learning curve. Most patients know how to use their phone, and most know about FaceTime, Skype, Facebook Messenger or another videotelephony product.

  5. This entire process requires no hardware for the practice. Two way-texting platforms are SaaS products that only require internet access. 

 

Furthermore, a 2019 study by Vonage concerning Americans' attitudes toward video communication found that consumers are increasingly embracing mobile video. Sixty-eight percent of video calling already occurs on mobile devices. Nearly one in four Americans were already familiar with using video chat for healthcare purposes and survey respondents stated that "a key motivation for video calling is that it creates a more personal experience compared to other [communication] channels."

A good texting system will inform you that the patient received the text with the telehealth link in it. Once the patient receives the text, all they need to do is click on the link in the text and this activates the browser on the phone. Once the telehealth system is activated in the web browser, the camera on the phone should be activated automatically.

To summarize: A text has the power to transform a mobile phone into a telehealth tool. During a time when we are looking for solutions that can help ensure the quality of care is as high as possible, telehealth plus texting are two that all practices should strongly consider.

BECKER'S Clinical Leadership & Infection Control

Coronavirus communications from ASCs: 7 critical messages

We are all aware of the high level of uncertainty that has marked the start of 2020.

The coronavirus represents a significant unknown and is impacting people and processes in ways that known entities like the flu do not. There is a growing sense of panic that this unknown is now fueling. While the panic is not all justified, it cannot be ignored.

ASCs have a responsibility to keep patients, staff, providers and vendors safe. At a time like this, effective communication and messaging are even more critical.

Here are examples of seven messages your ASC may want to consider sharing with the people coming to your facility and who they should be directed toward.

• For patients and vendors: "If you are not feeling well or are taking care of someone who is ill, please contact us to reschedule your appointment."
• For staff: "If you are not feeling well or are taking care of someone who is ill, please call the office to reschedule your shift."
• For anyone: "Please be advised that we have implemented a NO handshake policy on the premise at all times"
• For staff and providers: "As a valued team member, please remember the importance of following hand hygiene, masking and all other hygiene-related policies per your training."
• For patients, family members and vendors: "While in our waiting room or other areas of the facility, please cover your nose and mouth if you sneeze and cough. We have tissues and hand sanitizer located throughout the waiting room for your use. Please use both!"
• For everyone: "To reduce your risk of spreading infection, remember to wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. It helps to sing "Happy Birthday" twice. Also, keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth."
• For staff: "Remember that we have changed our patient pre-screening and screening upon admission policies to include asking where patients have traveled. If you have any concerns about admitting a patient, please speak with your supervisor."

Spreading the word (not the virus)
It is critical to establish processes to best ensure these and other timely messages are distributed in an efficient and effective manner. Posting notices on your website, social media and around your ASC are worthwhile. Outbound communication like phone calls and emails can work as well. But texting is likely your best option for mass communication.

As was noted in a previous Becker's ASC Review column, "Texting is a proven form of communication. Research has shown that 98% of texts are read and 95% are read within just three minutes of being sent. This means if you need to get a message out quickly, to a significant number of people and with a high degree of confidence that your audience will receive it, send that message as a text."

We like to say that "The time to deploy texting is well before it is needed." With the coronavirus likely to continue spreading for some time, bringing with it even more panic, the time to deploy texting may be as soon as possible.

Brandon Daniell is president and co-founder of Dialog Health, a cloud-based, two-way texting platform that enables vital information to be pushed to and pulled from patients and caregivers.

DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING - MJH Life Sciences

Two-Way Texting: The Simple, Effective Way to Reduce Radiology Revenue Loss

Radiology departments tend to have some of the most advanced and effective technology in a hospital. Yet, when it comes to communication with patients, most radiology departments lack a crucial, yet inexpensive technology: two-way texting.

Before we discuss this technology, it's helpful to gain a better understanding about why patient communication is so important for radiology departments. Consider that according to research published in Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology, radiology loses more uncaptured revenue per patient visit than primary care or other practices due to patients failing to keep appointments. This research estimated that uncaptured radiology revenue due to no-shows likely reaches $1 million annually at a typical U.S. academic medical center.

To communicate with patients about appointments, radiology departments have historically relied upon staff phone calls or mailed letters, such as mammogram reminders. While these communication methods may have once served radiology departments well, they are likely no longer effective for achieving their objectives.

A Harris Poll survey found that 29 percent of consumers do not listen to their voicemails. A Consumer Reports national survey found that 70 percent of Americans will not answer their phones when they don't recognize the incoming number. This will likely include calls made by healthcare organizations and radiology departments. Voicemails can linger unheard for days or may be deleted without ever being listened to if the message is believed to be spam.

Letters sent via the Postal Service take at least a few days and there is no means of determining whether a letter reached its intended location and recipient. Furthermore, there is no way of knowing whether the recipient will read, let alone, act on the contents of the letter.

Finally, both of these more traditional communication methods are expensive. The cost of sending a stuffed envelope, factoring in staff time and materials, typically runs around $1.20 to $2.00. Phone calls — with most outreach efforts requiring multiple calls — occupy expensive staff time.

The (Radiology) Case for Two-Way Texting

Now let's assess why texting — specifically two-way texting — is a communication platform that radiology departments should strongly consider. Two-way texting, when used in healthcare, enables information to be pushed to and pulled from patients, caregivers and facility staff.

What makes texting such an effective method of communication? The American adult, irrespective of age, has made texting a fundamental part of the communication in their lives. Texting is how Americans choose to communicate with their family, their friends, their colleagues and select businesses.

 

Nearly all U.S. adults now own cell phones, with smartphone ownership exceeding 80 percent, notes the Pew Research Center. This extends to older individuals, with 91 percent of adults 65 and over owning cell phones and a majority owning smartphones. Many adults now prefer to receive and send a text instead of receiving/making a phone call, according to a Chicago Tribune article. This preference is apparent when considering that 95 percent of text messages are read within just three minutes of being sent, according to a Forbes article, and 98 percent of all text messages are read, Mobile Marketing Watch reports.

Cost is also a factor that makes texting an appealing means of communication for healthcare providers. Whereas the cost of making phone calls and sending letters is measured in dollars, the cost of sending texts is measured in pennies.

Value of Two-Way Texting for Radiology

Radiology departments that leverage two-way texting can achieve improvements in several areas of their operations. These include the following:

Top-line revenue: Texting can have a significant, positive impact on appointment cancellations and no-shows. Texted reminders can help keep patients compliant with pre-appointment requirements and better ensure they arrive at their appointment at the right place and on time.

If patients need to cancel an appointment, one cannot assume they will pick up the phone and call to do so. They may choose to simply not show rather than wait on hold and eventually discuss their situation. However, they may not hesitate to text the need to cancel, especially if prompted by a message asking patients to confirm their appointment or asking if they have any concerns. A follow-up text from hospitals can help with rescheduling the appointment.

An additional revenue-generating opportunity is to send mammogram recall texts. Since patients' mobile numbers rarely change, those numbers already in your system or captured going forward are likely to remain the same for years. You can schedule text messages to go out to patients in advance, whether that be days, weeks or months before upcoming appointments. When texting is automated, there's no risk of falling behind and developing a backlog of outreach efforts.

Expenses and waste: Two-way texting will eliminate some of the expensive mail usually sent for appointment reminder or results communication. Two-way texting can also eliminate wasted doses that need to be discarded because patients failed to show up for their appointment.

Staff workflow: Staff in the radiology department tasked with communicating to patients can significantly reduce the time they spend on the phone calling and leaving voicemails for patients or assembling letters.

Portal utilization: Two-way texting is an easy way to notify patients that results are available. If a link to the patient portal is included in the text, patients can click on the link to activate the browser on their phone and go to the sign-in page of the portal.

Radiology Department Case Study

Data backs up the value of two-way texting for radiology departments. A radiology department that used a two-way texting platform ran a study in 2019, according to Dialog Health data, to see what impact two-way texting could have on its top-line revenue. From January through April, half of its patients were enrolled to receive texts while the other half did not receive text reminders about their appointment. The study included nearly 5,000 scheduled appointments.

The results: Patients receiving only text reminders had 180 no-shows, while patients receiving phone calls had 254 no-shows. That's a 29 percent reduction in no-shows. Another way of looking at it: 75 additional appointments in the first third of the year, which would translate to more than 220 additional appointments for the entire year.

Implementing Two-Way Texting for Radiology

Hospitals and their radiology departments must ensure the channels used to communicate with patients are chosen based upon individual patient preferences. Some patients will prefer letters, some may prefer phone calls or emails. But, for a majority of patients, texting will be a — if not the — communication method of choice. This should be welcomed news for the reasons highlighted earlier and many others. Texts can eliminate many outgoing phone calls and letters, generate inbound calls and increase touch frequency with patients. Two-way texting is a channel that should be considered as a key part of any radiology department's communication strategy.

A good rule of thumb: If you can include a message in a voicemail, email or letter, consider sending it as a text message. You'll find that's often a winning proposition.

Brandon Daniell is president and co-founder of Dialog Health. He has nearly 20 years of business and program development experience in healthcare, having worked with leading employers, physicians, payors and hospital systems. With three physicians in his family, Brandon understands the challenges many providers face concerning patient engagement.

BECKER'S ASC REVIEW

5 reasons your ASC needs a mass communication plan

On most days in an ambulatory surgery center (ASC), communication is second nature.

A combination of phone calls, emails and text messages are used to complete routine tasks, from patient pre-surgical assessments to staff scheduling to vendor appointment verification. But on occasion, these forms of individual or small group outreach efforts are inadequate. What's the occasion? An emergency or crisis. That's when your ASC will need a mass communication plan (and one, as will be explained later, that should be carried out via text messaging).

As the Department of Homeland Security's Ready website notes, "When an emergency occurs, the need to communicate is immediate. … An important component of the [emergency] preparedness program is the crisis communications plan. A business must be able to respond promptly, accurately and confidently during an emergency in the hours and days that follow. Many different audiences must be reached with information specific to their interests and needs."

In addition, an effective mass communication plan also allows businesses to track whether critical messages have reached audiences successfully. If your ASC is in business long enough, it will encounter an emergency, crisis or unexpected event that warrants communication. For some surgery centers, such experiences are likely to be more commonplace.

Consider the following five reasons why ASCs need a mass communication plan:

1. Disasters. Disasters have the potential to wreak havoc on an ASC. Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes, can cause significant damage to a surgery center or at least greatly disrupt operations if damage occurs in the surrounding area. Manmade disasters, such as bioterrorism attacks, transportation accidents, fires and even cyberattacks, can do the same. An effective mass communication plan will inform patients, staff and vendors of the change in operations and better help ensure these individuals stay off the roads and out of harm's way.

2. Weather. As with disasters, the likes of a blizzard, thunderstorm or hailstorm can force an ASC to at least temporarily close. If damage occurs to the facility or the roads around it, this closure may extend to days or even weeks. Any delays in conveying time-sensitive updates to individuals planning to travel to the ASC will create increased risk.

3. Power outages. While ASCs are required to own generators, their use is intended to be temporary. So, when power outages occur — which has become more commonplace in parts of California, for example — ASCs will need to suspend operations as soon as safely possible. Power outages can last for hours, days or even longer. During these times, ASCs will want the ability to rapidly inform anyone who will be affected by the change, both about when the power outage occurs and when power has returned.

While power outages are not typically as dangerous as disasters or severe weather, any individuals who come to the ASC and find out that they made an unnecessary trip are likely to be unhappy. This feeling will likely be elevated for those patients who cannot easily take time off from work or must travel long distances for their surgical care. A mass communication plan can reduce such dissatisfaction.

 

4. Active shooters and workplace violence. News reports regularly remind us that active shooters and workplace violence are serious threats to any business, including ASCs. In fact, healthcare organizations face an elevated risk.

As an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) study notes, "The rate of serious workplace violence incidents (those requiring days off for an injured worker to recuperate) was more than four times greater in healthcare than in private industry on average. In fact, healthcare accounts for nearly as many serious violent injuries as all other industries combined." One of the factors OSHA cites as a reason for the increased risk: "lack of means of emergency communication."

Mass communication can inform staff — and possibly employees of other businesses, if the ASC is in a shared building — of what is occurring, helping them make decisions to aid in the response and keep others away from the location where the incident is occurring. In addition, mass communication can help keep more individuals from coming to the ASC, reducing the risk of more harm.

5. Unplanned surgeon absence. While not as urgent as the other reasons highlighted above, a mass communication plan comes in handy for an unplanned surgeon absence — particularly when that surgeon performs a high volume of daily procedures (e.g., gastroenterologist, pain management specialist, ophthalmologist). The sooner an ASC can inform patients of the need to cancel their procedures due to such an absence, the more time patients and their family members/friends will have to adjust their schedules accordingly. Effective outreach can help increase patient satisfaction or at least reduce any potential damage to satisfaction caused by the cancellation.

Why text messaging should be the mass communication method of choice
While phone trees and email can be used as mass communication methods, neither is as effective or efficient as text messaging. Texting should be a primary component of any emergency communication plan for any ASC.

Here are a few of the most critical reasons why:
• Cell phone towers have backup generators, which means that when the main power goes off, cell phones still work.

• More than 96% of Americans own a mobile phone of some kind, and there is a high likelihood that people will have their mobile phone with them throughout an emergency. Most people have their phone with them almost every waking minute, or it is at least within earshot.

• Texting is a proven form of communication. Research has shown that 98% of texts are read and 95% are read within just three minutes of being sent. This means if you need to get a message out quickly, to a significant number of people and with a high degree of confidence that your audience will receive it, send that message as a text.

• Most phone calls go unanswered, voicemail is "going the way of the dinosaurs" and large numbers of emails go unread.

Also consider the following: According to a Nextgov report, data indicates that a person who texts has an 800-to-1 better chance of sending a message to someone in an emergency than using voice communications because a short message (e.g., "imok" for "I'm OK") requires only four bytes using standard text messaging protocols. Furthermore, a Consumer Reports News article encourages texting over phone calls when faced with a disaster. Finally, a Public Health Reports study highlights the effectiveness of text messaging for communicating information to public health employees and improving workforce situational awareness during emergencies.

More organizations now rely on text messaging for emergency communication, including many utilities. The federal government has its own text messaging system (Wireless Emergency Alerts) for emergencies. The system has been used nearly 50,000 times to warn the public about critical situations.

ASCs should consider how texting can help strengthen the communication component of their emergency preparedness and business continuity plan. Two-way texting is ubiquitous, effective and very efficient. The time to deploy texting is well before it is needed.

Brandon Daniell is president and co-founder of Dialog Health, a cloud-based, two-way texting platform that enables vital information to be pushed to and pulled from patients and caregivers.