Why Booking Patients Via Text Beats Email

Why Booking Via Text Beats Email for Your Medical Practice

Providers aren’t having much success booking via email anymore. The delay and inefficiency of trying to communicate via email can be frustrating for patients and providers. If your patients can’t book appointments with HIPAA texting yet, you're missing out a increasing ineffeciency in your practice and providing a better patient experience. Texting is here to stay and the numbers support it.

  • 99% of texts are read
  • Average text response time is 90 seconds
  • 9/10 people say they want businesses to text with sales, services, updates and reminders
  • About 50% click through or respond to texts

On the other hand, here are the current stats on email:

  • 15-25% of emails are opened
  • 1-2% of emails get a click through or response
  • Average email response time is 2 days

Email is still alive and does well, however text has become a superior channel to directly communicate regarding something as important as a booking. Partiuclarly with the intent of the patient is high.

To put it simply, email is a cluttered medium. Consumers receive dozens of emails each day, and they read very few of them. High volume of email has trained us to treat emails as low-priority, but text messages are still considered a high-priority medium. Let’s lay out the reasons why your resources should be invested in HIPAA text instead of email. We’ll also provide some tips and tricks to ensure your text bookings are successful.

Texting Saves You Time and Money

HIPAA text technology offers fully-automatable responses. New texting software for medical practices offer tools that allow you to craft and schedule effective text messages (without incurring any HIPAA violations). You can set up text messages that enable your patients to confirm, cancel or reschedule appointments, 24/7. Most software automatically replies to clients, meaning you’re not sitting there responding to texts with your precious time (and time is money!). Text messaging for scheduling save time and lower costs across

While emailing can also be automated, it yields fewer results for your effort. Not only that, but emailing also takes longer than texting, both for the provider and the patient. Whether you schedule your emails or write them in real-time, the average email is about 435 words. Emails require formal greetings and signatures, whereas texting is to-the-point. A text message averages just 7 words.

Looking at things from the patient’s perspective, a simple “yes” or “no” may not seem sufficient over email; therefore, they might delay responding (and then forget to respond in most cases). Texting can be as easy as “press 1 to confirm your appointment,” and many patients are more than happy to take two seconds to do so. Texting is concise, simple, and shows that you respect your patient’s time.

In addition, you can include a link to your office phone number in your text, so the patient is one click away from speaking with you on the phone. If your phone number is included in an email, the patient has to transfer the number into their phone before calling (so they might not call at all). Overall, the immediacy of texting saves more time and money in the long-run.

Texting Reduces No-Shows

While no-shows can be detrimental to a practice (the US healthcare system loses $150 billion annually to no-shows),hat texting can reduce the occurrence of no-shows by about 38%. Texting makes it as easy as possible for patients to reschedule or cancel their appointment aheads of time (press 1 to reschedule your appointment, 2 to cancel your appointment, or 3 to confirm your appointment). Providers can also offer their patients 1-2 automated appointment reminders to safeguard against forgetfulness or confusion.

Texting Allows You to Target a Wide Variety of Patient Groups

Last-Minute Patients: Texting is the solution for filling last-minute openings and keeping those appointment books full. Be deliberate about keeping a waiting list of patients who may be interested in visiting your practice ASAP. A last-minute appointment text may look something like this:

[First Name], we just had an opening for this afternoon at 4:15 pm. Would you like to come in for that appointment instead of waiting until [previously scheduled appointment time]?

New Patients: You can take your last-minute patient text and use a similar approach with warm leads who have not yet become patients. For example:

[First Name], are you interested in meeting with Dr. [Name]? Our appointment books are full through [month], but we just had a consultation appointment open up at 9:00 am tomorrow. If you would like to fill this appointment, please respond with 1.

Existing Patients: Even a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25% or more. It is certainly worth your time and energy to maintain a customer database and reach out on occasion. For example, you could find a list of patients who had an appointment 6 months to 1 year previously, and send them a text message like the one below.

Hi [First Name], it’s time to schedule your next visit. Book your next [appointment/service] with [practice/doctor name] now at [link to calendar].

All Age Groups: Texting is accessible to anyone with a mobile device, even without WIFI connection in most cases. People of all age groups bring their mobile devices with them everywhere, and they’re checking their texts more than ever. In fact, since the pandemic, 50% of cell phone users are sending more texts than they normally would, according to some studies. In similar studies, participants ranging from Gen Z down to baby boomers were asked if they wished more businesses would text them, and 73% responded in the affirmative.

More Tips for Booking via Texting

  • You might get inbound requests. Set up an automated reply or have a quick reply on hand to keep those leads and convert them into revenue.
  • Do not overload your patients with text messages. Frequent text advertising will result in a patient ignoring your texts, even when they are important booking confirmation messages.
  • Be specific and concise. Avoid messages like “Hi [first name], we need to talk soon. Call us at [office phone].” Patients may read vague messages and write them off as spam.
  • Trigger a personal response whenever possible. Mention the practitioner by name. You might speak to the patient from the perspective of the provider to make the patient feel like they are speaking to their real doctor instead of an automation. You could also include statements like “You’re an important part of our practice,” or “Hope your morning is going well,” to add a personal touch (just don’t fail to keep your text concise).
  • Don’t neglect any part of the appointment date or time. For example, “See you on Thursday, June 6 at 3:30 PM” is more helpful than “See you this Thursday afternoon!”
  • If your patient chooses the “reschedule appointment” option, have an automated response prepared, or quickly respond with a text that creates a sense of urgency to reschedule:
  • Thank you for letting us know you need to reschedule. Call our practice now: [practice number]

It’s Easy to Start Booking with Texting

Don’t let your emails rot in patients’ inboxes. Telehealth (including texting, virtual appointments, and online pharmacy options) are becoming extremely effective and convenient. It's a simple win win for patients and providers. Here’s how to implement texting in your practice:

  •  Invest in a texting software that you can trust to protect you and your patients. To learn more about the best HIPAA compliant texting software available, and how HIPAA relates with medical messaging, you need to read this comprehensive guide on HIPAA compliant texting.
  • Set permissions and automated texts, and establish a texting protocol with your staff. The software will do most of the work for you.
  • Spread the word to your patients about your new texting capabilities (use in-office signage, email lists and other advertising methods).
  • Get patients’  permission to text them. With full appointment books, more patient-provider communication, and greater convenience for all, what’s not to love about booking via texting?