Boost Patient Access Among Diverse Populations Using SMS

In order to help patients access care, healthcare organizations must have a nuanced understanding of the unique populations they support. Here’s why SMS can streamline outreach and help organizations meet patient access goals.

October 19, 2021

In order to help patients access care, healthcare organizations must have a nuanced understanding of the unique and diverse populations they support. Knowing the age, gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation of patients can help providers better understand not only the health problems people may face, but also how best to help with patient access concerns including access and proximity to health care resources. Understanding the impacts of social determinants of health (SDOH) further helps health systems know what type of message and which channel is most effective when initiating and maintaining connection with specific patient populations. 

These messages can be related to communication tasks ranging from where they can access care, appointment management to vaccine distribution and pre- and post-procedure instructions. However, based on the above factors, it is necessary to consider how to communicate with very different groups of patients. Fortunately, text-based, or SMS, patient communications can significantly streamline and improve interactions with diverse populations.

Texting is Trending Across Many Patient Segments

In general, Americans favor texting over other communications channels when engaging with businesses. That is true for many different groups. People of color and white Americans are at or near par with regard to smartphone ownership. In addition, 260 million US residents are using smartphones with texting capability, and mobile coverage in the US, even in rural communities, is nearly ubiquitous.

The generalized affinity for text-messaging explains why more than 70% of healthcare consumers prefer scheduling appointments by text message versus email (25%) or phone (5%). 53% wish to receive additional customer service support via text. This consumer preference for SMS communications is further impacted by whether they can engage with a company through two-way text messaging.

Healthcare organizations employing patient outreach that offers two-way communication can expect a rise in engagement: 

  • 98% of text messages are read in full versus 20% of emails
  • 83% of consumers reply to text messages from a business within 30 minutes
  • Millennials, the largest patient population, are 40 times more likely to act via text


Personalization is Key When Addressing Patient Access Needs

Regular communication enhances the patient experience; healthcare organizations can experience a 25% increase in customer satisfaction. SMS patient communication enables health systems to easily reach diverse populations more often and more personally. 

Whether health systems need to broadcast messages to reach large groups of patients at once, or want to personalize messages that allow two-way dialogue, the more targeted the message, the better. By gathering information about patients, and their communication likes and dislikes, healthcare organizations can customize outreach: 

  • A patient’s age, medical condition, or social determinants of health
  • Language preferences 
  • If they have any visual, hearing, or information processing impairments
  • Favorability of text, email or, phone outreach
  • Any preferences around reminders or reminder timing, such as annual wellness exams or routine screenings, or education about chronic condition management 

FREE SMS Patient Access Resource 

Download the eBook, Bringing Patients Back for Preventative Care, and leverage automated SMS patient engagement tactics to reach divers populations and achieve patient access goals.

Solutions like HouseCalls Pro enables SMS texting AND embed within the electronic health record (EHR). This allows for the push and pulls of data to and from the EHR, treating this system as the single source of truth and making it even easier to reference SDOH information and honor patient preferences like language. Interested in learning, more? Tell us more  about your healthcare organization and we’ll put you in touch with one of our product experts.

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