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DOING BUSINESS


phone numbers and even links to websites, patient portals, online bill pay and surveys. Sending a text mes- sage before or after an appointment is an effective way to notify, educate, support, converse with and steer patients to other resources. While most businesses look at text messages as an outbound reminder service, most Americans use texting for conversations. This is why the conversational nature of two-way texting is a valuable communica- tion asset for an ASC. An incoming text message from a patient is just as valuable as an incoming phone call. An inbound text can save time and money. If a patient knows they need to cancel an appointment, do not assume they will pick up the phone and call to do so. Allowing for two- way texting is important when it comes to patient communication.


2. Two-way texting can decrease phone calls and increase response rates.


Using two-way text messaging can save ASCs hours of staff time making phone calls. ASCs also can use two-way tex- ting for other activities like direct one- to-one real-time communication, auto- mated and scheduled appointment reminders and pre- and post-compli- ance messaging. It can be used for broadcast/group text messages, includ- ing emergency and weather-related information that reaches thousands of patients within minutes and would oth- erwise take staff days to share. Konnie Dao of Amsurg Corpo-


ration realized that staff at her five Dallas area endoscopy centers were making more and more calls to patients the day after


their proce-


dures. “Often times patients don’t answer their phones if it is a num- ber they don’t recognize and, while we are committed to contacting each patient after their procedure, it is a time-consuming process for our staff that can take them away from their clinical work.” Dao says. “We real-


ized that most everyone that was coming into our facility had a mobile phone with them. So, we decided to ask the patient for their mobile num- ber and to text them the day after their procedure to see if they needed a call from our nurse.” The results were immediate and impressive with more than an 87 percent response rate. The centers sent postop texts to 2,235 patients and got responses from 1,959 patients with 1,920 say- ing via text that they did not need a phone call from the nurse.


3. Texting can reduce no-shows and improve compliance. ASCs can use two-way texting throughout the patient’s journey. These messages can include automated and scheduled appointment reminders that reduce no-shows and improve compli- ance. The communication challenge for Lisa Fonkalsrud, center director for Tulsa Endoscopy Center in Tulsa,


Texting is a cost-effective, convenient and reliable communication channel that is preferred by patients, so it should be an essential part of an ASC’s communication options.”


— Brandon Daniell Dialog Health


Oklahoma, was how to reduce no- shows and cancellations without mak- ing more phone calls. Fonkalsrud and her team created two pre-appoint- ment text messages. The first was a two-day appointment text asking the patient to confirm the appointment and reminding them to arrive at a certain time before the appointment. The sec- ond text was sent the day before with both the arrival time and certain NPO instructions. “As a result of sending these two text messages to patients” Fonkalsrud says, “patient compliance has improved and our no-show rate in the third quarter this year was 53 per- cent lower than the rate for the same period last year.”


4. Two-way texting can increase web- site and portal usage.


Texting can provide patients with a direct link to an ASC’s website/portal using a convenient hyperlink inside the text message. For Jennifer Blanton, administra-


tor at Physicians’ Eye Surgery Cen- ter in Charleston, South Carolina, the communication challenge was getting patients to log into the center’s online registration platform to complete their online paperwork submissions in a timely fashion, so that staff were not scrambling to get all of the informa- tion. “We created a text message to go out five days before the appointment.” Blanton says. “By putting the link to the portal in the text, we made it easy for the patient to go directly there. Our very first month of sending the texts saw an 89 percent increase in patient submis- sions. That is significant, especially, given the average age of our patient population.” Texting really proved its value for Blanton in the fall of 2018 when hurricanes Michael and Florence roared into the Carolinas. “Being able to communicate to patients about schedul- ing changes due to the hurricanes in a fast and reliable way was a blessing for our patients, our staff and our provid-


ASC FOCUS FEBRUARY 2019 | ascfocus.org 17


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