Can I contact my community health clients via text message?

Can I contact my community health clients via text message?

It’s a good question, and one that you’re right to ask.

Perhaps you’re thinking that you should take advantage of technology to:

  • Increase the number of people who attend appointments
  • Inform more people about community health programs
  • Target a particular demographic

Why message community health clients via text?

According to many sources, including Small Biz Trends, sending a text message is far more effective than sending an email.

The general consensus of opinion is that:

  • 98% of text messages are read
  • 90% of text messages are opened within 3 minutes

In comparison, just:

  • 20% of emails are read

This means that text messages are 5x more likely to be read, and 9 out of 10 are read within just a few minutes of being received.

How does this affect agencies using integrated electronic health records?

If you are considering using text messages to contact your clients, then there are many things to take into account.

As well as functionality, support and cost, you’ll need to remember that security and privacy definitely need to be at the top of the list.

What about Nightingale Notes EHR?

Nightingale Notes integrates automated client reminders sent by text, email and voice messaging.

Champ Software utilizes an integrated web-based Health Messenger program provided by one of our partners, Teletask.

This enables clinicians to send things like:

  • Appointment reminders
  • Missed appointment messages
  • Follow up messages
  • Notices about upcoming community health programs

to:

  • One client
  • Groups of clients
  • All clients

Based on different criteria, and the patient’s preferences for receiving text, email or voice messages.

How else can text messaging help?

When you utilize an EMR with integrated text messages for your clients, like Nightingale Notes, the messages can be customized based on the information an agency needs to send to client.

Public health agency staff can also:

  • Select different languages for the messages
  • Send messages in real-time
  • Schedule messages

Patients can:

  • Send an automated response back to confirm or cancel an appointment

This makes it extremely quick and easy for the agency and patient, and also potentially (and realistically), lets the agency know immediately whether they will attend.

What about security?

All of these features are nice and extremely beneficial to patients and public health agencies alike, but the most important information thing to remember is that these messages need to be secure.

Before you get a dedicated cellphone to contact your clients, it’s essential to remember that:

  • Sending messages from a personal mobile device is not considered secure

Nightingale Notes ensures that the information is always sent securely using the highest encryption standards. Our integration with Teletask allows you to securely send messages directly from your computer to your clients’ phones.

Our recent blog post following the Butler County Health Department Ransomware attack, talks about the security we use, 256-bit encryption, which is the same level of encryption as banks.

What can and can’t you send via text message?

When using any messaging system with health care clients or community health clients, it’s essential to know what’s permissible and what isn’t.

That question is answered with guidelines from CMS, which you should read before you send out any text messages.

We recommend that you read Elizabeth Hogue’s recent article, CMS Clarifies Position on Texting Patient Information Among Healthcare Providers, which includes the official CMS statements around messaging to clients.

Conclusion

If you are thinking about using text messaging in your organization, or want to in the future, why not contact us on (507) 388-4141 and tell us what you want to know?

We’ll be delighted to show you how Nightingale Notes and text messaging are helping public health agencies like yours.

About the Author:

Nicole has worked at Champ for over a decade, and is the Chief Operations Officer, and oversees all the day to day operations here. When she’s not spending time at work with her Champ family, Nicole and her husband Jake, and their 3 kids, Allison, Isaac, and Jacob, enjoy camping, hiking, biking, swimming, as well as running to volleyball, basketball, and football camps and games.

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