Patient messaging accomplishes some important tasks to help your clinic run more efficiently:

  • Reminds patients to attend appointments
  • Sends patients forms to fill out 
  • Communicates practice updates, such as safety and re-opening protocols
  • Offers an easy way for patients to pay their bills
  • Sends treatment instructions
  • Wishes your patients a happy birthday
  • Reduces call volume for your staff

Keep reading to find out how to properly use a patient messaging system to communicate with patients. We’ve also put together some helpful text and email patient messaging templates to get you started on the right foot.  

 

What is patient messaging? 

Patient messaging allows healthcare clinics to send HIPAA-compliant email and text messages to patients for several purposes, including appointment reminders, filling out digital forms, making online payments, and sending follow-up messages to communicate treatment plans and clinic news. 

 

Why patient communication is so important right now 

Communicating effectively with your patients has never been more important. Here are some important use cases for patient messaging during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Announcing the re-opening of your practice 

Depending on where your office is located, you may feel ready to re-open your clinic. Rather than calling each patient one by one to tell them your clinic is ready to take appointments, send them an announcement via email or text.

 

Communicating safety protocols 

Patients may feel hesitant to return to your clinic due to risk of infection. Communicating safety protocols via email is the fastest way to clarify new safety measures for your office. While SMS messages may not allow for full communication of safety protocols, they’re a quick way to direct patients to a landing page on your website with more details. 

 

Reducing admin staff workload 

Some of your staff may still be working remotely – and you may want to keep it that way for physical distancing. Investing in a patient messaging system will reduce call volume instantly and allow staff to focus on new ways to improve the patient experience from a distance. 

Quick tip: Put together a clinic re-opening FAQ for your website and ask patients to refer to it before calling your clinic with questions. 

 

Best practices for patient messaging  

As with any communication method, it’s important to follow a certain etiquette. Here are three things to keep in mind when you’re messaging patients via email or text. 

 

When to send messaging

Message timing depends on the goal of the message. 

For example, if you’re sending appointment reminders, you’ll want to send messages close enough to the time of the appointment for optimal effect. We recommend reminders one week out, 24 hours out, and two hours out to prevent no-shows and cancellations

If you’re sending a link for online payment or aftercare instructions, make sure to set up automated messaging so the patient receives these messages immediately after seeing a physician. 

Email and SMS marketing requires a thoughtful approach: contact patients when you can offer them genuine value through offers or helpful content, or when you’re showing appreciation. 

 

HIPAA-compliance 

Text and email messages are considered HIPAA compliant, but your clinic will need to adopt software that was made to secure patient data.  

It’s a best practice to limit the amount of private medical information contained in patient communication. 

Rather than specifying, for example, that your message is from “Smile Dentistry Services”, specify that the message is from “Dr. Shi.” 

Never use patients’ names in reminders, and don’t include diagnosis or treatment plans as part of email or SMS messages.

 

EHR and patient management software integration

A patient messaging system that isn’t connected to your EHR will create a silo. A patient may receive a message and reply in one system, but that information will not be captured in your EHR if the system is separate. 

Choose an integrated solution to make sure all information remains centralized, so you don’t accidentally double your workload.

 

Patient messaging templates: Text and email messages

 

Care reminder: Routine cleaning 

Text 

Hi! [dentist name] here. 👋🏽 Quick reminder that you’re past due for your next cleaning.

Book your next appointment here: [link to online booking system]

[location address]

 

Email

Subject line: Overdue: Book your next cleaning. 🦷✨

[logo]

Hi! It’s [dentist name] here. Quick reminder that you’re past due for your next cleaning. 

Make your health a priority and schedule an appointment. We look forward to seeing you soon!

[include call-to-action button sending people to your online booking system]

Thank you!

[physician name]

 

Appointment reminders  

Text 

Hi! [physician name] here. You’re scheduled to see me on [date] at [time] at [location name]

Reply “C” to confirm your appointment. Looking forward to seeing you!

[location address]

 

Email

Subject line: Your appointment with [physician name] is confirmed. 

[logo]

Hi! It’s [physician name] here. You’re scheduled to see me on [date] at [time] at [location name]

Please confirm that this is correct.

[confirmation call-to-action button]

Thank you!

[physician name]

 

Post-visit follow-up after emergency care

Text 

Hi! [physician name] here. Quick reminder to contact our clinic if you notice signs of fever, persistent swelling in your face and neck, or throbbing toothache radiating to your jawbone, neck, or ear.

Thank you for coming in today. We hope you feel better soon!

[location address]

 

Email

Subject line: Symptoms to watch for 

[logo]

Hi! It’s [physician name] here. 

Just a quick reminder to contact our clinic if you notice signs of fever, persistent swelling in your face and neck, or throbbing toothache radiating to your jawbone, neck, or ear.

Thank you for coming in today. We hope you feel better soon!

Thank you!

[physician name]

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