Timely communication is vital to the efficient running of a clinic. Clinic staff spend a lot of time keeping in touch with patients. With the right tools, much of this work can be more streamlined. Ease of use, speed, accuracy, repeatability, cost-effectiveness, are all key considerations in choosing the right communication tools. SMS messaging is increasingly used effectively in dental clinics.
Short Messaging Service (SMS) is by far the most efficient communication tool available to busy dental clinics.
- It’s personal – delivered directly into the patient’s hands.
- It offers almost 98% open-rate – much higher than email.
- It’s fast – delivered almost instantaneously.
- It’s cost-effective – at the cost of coin change per message.
How to Use SMS Messaging Effectively
Appointment Reminders: This is the most popular use of SMS. A quick message to remind patients about upcoming appointments can reduce no-shows considerably. Patients can reply by SMS to confirm. Those who don’t, can can be followed up with a call.
Lab-work Notifications: Lab-work can take time to complete. When they get back, an SMS message can be sent out to ask patients to call and set up an appointment.
Appointment Availability Notifications: Patients on waiting lists or those who have in the past expressed interest in elective procedures can be notified when potential time slots open up.
Automated Follow-up: After a procedure has been completed, any follow-up from the clinic, no matter how simple or brief, can be a source of comfort for patients. Follow-up messages may be as simple as asking how they are doing and to remind them to call if they feel any discomfort.
Patient Education Links: SMS messages can be used to share web page links to useful information about upcoming or recently performed procedures. Links to articles or videos can be quickly opened on smartphones and can be a easy method of delivering patient education.
Link to Submit Patient Reviews: Want to know how the patient actually felt about their recent visit to your clinic? Just ask. Offering a link to submit a review over the web can be help you get a better feel for how you’re doing and can be a source for testimonials that you can post to your website.
Personalize: Nothing says ‘we care about you’ better than remembering a person’s birthday. A personalized SMS sent to wish your patient a happy birthday or to offer season’s greetings can help engender loyalty.
Dos and Donts of SMS Messaging
Don’t Overdo It: Sending too many messages can turn patients off. If you get blocked, then it will be impossible to get even critical messages through.
Verify Legality: Make sure it’s legal to send promotional messages. It is illegal for healthcare institutions in some countries to send promotional messages. Does this apply to you? It helps to find out. Fines for violations can be substantial.
Ask for Permission: Your messaging will be most effective if your recipients have first asked for permission to send messages. If you have asked for permission, it is unlikely that you will get blocked. If patients prefer not to receive SMS messages, mark their accounts as such and block any outgoing messages to them.
Use Native Language: Messages become much more effective if it is delivered in the patient’s native tongue. So, it may be helpful to make a note of what their native language is and to send the message in that language if possible.
Mind the Security: Take care not to send sensitive information such as treatment information, overdue amounts, etc over SMS. Not only can this be potentially embarrassing for the patient, it may also be in violation of electronic health record security laws.
Observe Sacred Times: Make sure to not send messages during prayer, dinner or sleep times.
How Practizen does SMS Messaging
Separate Service Not Required: SMS is provided as a premium service, so you don’t need to maintain a separate account with a third party SMS provider.
SMS Software Built-in: The SMS service is built into the Practizen, so it has access to patients’ information. Using a third party SMS service will require you to regularly enter new patients’ information manually.
Message Templates: Practizen offers templates for regularly used messages like appointment reminders, birthday wishes, lab notices, season greetings, etc.
Personalize Messages: Practizen allows you to personalize messages, by including the patient’s and doctor’s names.
Scheduled Messaging: Messages (eg, appointment reminders) can be scheduled to go out at a preset date and time.
Patient Preferences: SMS messages can be blocked selectively if the patients prefers not to receive SMS messages. You can also specify language preferences.
Would you like to learn more about how you can use Practizen to reach your patients quickly and cost-effectively? Call our partner, Wusten Purple, to schedule a demo. You can reach them at 55.980.5557