SMS text messaging has become commonplace in the Australian healthcare industry, with many organisations taking advantage of the instant communication method to connect with patients. Although there are many different messaging applications on the market today with millions of users worldwide, the versatility of SMS communications.
remains unparalleled. Anyone with a mobile phone can send and receive SMS messages without an internet connection and without needing to install any additional applications or software.
There are two ways healthcare organisations can connect with patients: one-way SMS and two-way SMS. One-way SMS only allows information to flow in one direction; from healthcare providers to their patients. 2-way SMS addresses the shortcomings of 1-way SMS by allowing patients to interact with text messages and send a reply.
A 2015 study found that there was a significant difference in the effectiveness of one-way SMS versus 2-way SMS. ‘Two-way text messaging is associated with substantially improved medical adherence compared with one-way text messaging. This has important implications in the provision of mobile-based messaging in the management of patients…’
So, what exactly is 2-way SMS and how can it benefit organisations in the healthcare industry? We dive into the specifics below.
What is 2-way SMS?
Two-way SMS, unlike one-way SMS, not only provides healthcare organisations the ability to send SMS text messages out to patients, but also to receive replies. It’s a powerful way to communicate and engage patients, where the information returned via SMS can help healthcare providers to automate processes and streamline communications across their entire organisation.
A 2019 study found that patients emphasize the importance of personalised messaging, human connection and real time with two-way interaction.
Coupled with GoFax’s SMS features like dynamic fields, SMS broadcast and a proven 98% open rate, 2-way SMS offers the ultimate method to personalise patient experiences and improve long-term patient care for all types of healthcare organisations.
How does 2-way SMS work for healthcare?
Two-way SMS works on a keyword basis. When a healthcare organisation sends out a text message to patients, it must contain an option for the patient to respond using a specific keyword. Keywords are generally as simple as using Y for yes, C for cancel or R for reschedule. These keywords can be customised to the organisation’s needs.
User case: Two-way SMS for appointment confirmations, reminders, cancellations and rescheduling
One of the most beneficial ways to use 2-way SMS communications in healthcare is to send text messages to patients for appointment confirmations, reminders, cancellations and give patients the option to reschedule.
Appointment non-attendance contributes added cost to the healthcare industry through wasted resource allocations and lost revenue. A Forbes article around a study on no-shows conducted in the US found that the total cost of missed healthcare appointments every year equates to $150 billion.
A 2017 study found that ‘small, simple changes in service delivery make a big difference. By improving the efficiency of services, resourcing can be redirected to helping others in need.’
Using text messages allows patients to instantly confirm, cancel or reschedule appointments, producing better health outcomes for patients and healthcare providers through higher patient attendance.
Take a look at the example below of how one of our clients use 2-way text messaging for healthcare appointment reminders:
What are the benefits of 2-way SMS for healthcare?
Gain real-time responses from patients
90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes of being received, providing healthcare organisations with the opportunity to gain instant responses from patients. You can connect with patients in real-time to encourage regular health check-ups, remind them of vaccinations, to take their medication and more.
Build provider-patient relationships
2-way SMS is the ultimate way to personalise a patient’s experience with your organisation. A behavioural insights case study conducted by the Victorian Government to encourage patient attendance at specialist medical clinic appointments found that patients were twice as likely to respond to personalised SMS text messages.
Personalising text messages allows patients to feel like they’re more than just a number, that they’re valued and appreciated – which builds positive relationships between patients and healthcare providers.
Improve patient care
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 25.7% of Australians delayed seeing or did not see a doctor when needed, 30.4% delayed seeing a dentist and 19.9% delayed seeing a medical specialist over the 2019-2020 period. As indicated by ABS, COVID-19 may have contributed to an increase in these numbers compared to 2018-19.
Implementing 2-way text messaging with not only help to reduce no-shows and increase revenue, but will also improve patient care, prompting patients who need to see a healthcare provider to attend appointments instead of delaying necessary care.
How to send a 2-way SMS with GoFax
There are three different ways to start a two-way conversation with your patients when sending an SMS through the GoFax secure web portal. Remember, a 2-way SMS is only 2-way if your recipient can reply.
Leave the ‘Sender ID/Virtual Mobile Number’ field blank when sending an SMS. This allows you to receive replies to your GoFax account via a free shared number for up to 48 hours.
Add a chosen mobile phone number to the ‘Sender ID/Virtual Mobile Number’ field when sending an SMS. You can use any mobile phone number. When using this option, you will only receive replies to that mobile number, not to your GoFax account.
If you have purchased a dedicated virtual SMS mobile number with GoFax, you can choose to receive replies to that number. These replies will be accessible in your GoFax account. You will need to add the virtual SMS mobile number to the ‘Sender ID/Virtual Mobile Number’ field when sending an SMS.
To use 2-way SMS and receive SMS replies from patients, you can’t have a customised Sender ID. Please leave this field blank or add in an active mobile phone number.
GoFax: the 2-way SMS communication experts
If you’re looking to implement an SMS solution in your general practice, look no further than GoFax, Australia’s #1 communications platform for the healthcare industry. Sign up for your free SMS trial today, or contact our sales team on 1300 928 872 to discuss your business requirements and see how GoFax can work for you.