3 Simple Ways to Use Text Messages to Engage Millennial Patients

young man with headphones on his smart phone

When it comes to engaging younger patients, there are some obvious challenges. Not only are younger patients typically healthier and less likely to prioritize healthcare, they also don’t like to answer the phone. For healthcare practices that have relied primarily on phone calls and voice messages to communicate with patients in the past, adapting to the communication preferences of millennial patients is essential. That means adopting a text-first patient engagement strategy.

The potential for using text messages to connect with and engage younger patients is vast. If you are wondering where to start, here are three examples of simple ways to engage millennial patients via text message:

1. Send texts that prompt patients to self-schedule preventive health exams and services.

Patients of all ages can benefit from preventive healthcare. However, most patients are not very proactive about scheduling preventive care appointments—this is particularly true for younger patients. With a bit of prompting, healthcare teams can coach millennial patients to become more actively involved in disease prevention. Whether it is a quick text to encourage a patient that is due for a wellness exam to schedule an appointment, or a text to invite a patient to visit your clinic for a flu shot, texting is an effective way to promote preventive care.  

Texts that promote preventive healthcare should include a way for patients to easily respond. This could mean clicking a link to directly schedule an appointment or start a chat. The point is, the easier it is for patients to respond with the action you want them to take, the more likely they are to do so.  

With a bit of prompting, healthcare teams can coach millennial patients to become more actively involved in disease prevention.

2. Encourage patients to show up on time and prepared for appointments by sending reminder texts prior to scheduled appointments.

Doctors know that appointment reminders work. That’s why so many practices use them. Of course, to get the most bang out of appointment reminders, they should be delivered via patients’ preferred modes of communication. In the case of most millennials, that means texting.

Data supports the effectiveness of using text messages to remind millennials about upcoming appointments. Appointment reminder texts delivered by Luma Health have produced a 43 percent confirmation rate among patients between the ages of 18 to 34. Even across all age groups, the response rate is only 28 percent for email reminders and 26 percent for voice messages.

Patients are obviously most engaged during in-person appointments. By encouraging patients to show up prepared and on time to appointments, doctors can maximize the valuable and limited face-to-face time they have with patients. Clearly, text messages can be used to remind patients about the date, time, and location of appointments, and also confirm, cancel or reschedule appointments. But they can do even more. Healthcare practices can leverage text messages to request a copy of insurance information, urge patients to complete intake forms ahead of arrival, or remind patients to bring questions or medical history information to their appointment. This engagement prior to appointments can create better healthcare experiences and greater patient satisfaction among millennials.

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3. Follow up after appointments with a text message inviting patients to share their feedback.

Millennials, like all other patients, want to know their healthcare providers are listening and are dedicated to providing the absolute best healthcare experiences. Inviting patients to submit feedback following appointments is one way to help millennials feel more valued and invested in their own healthcare. In turn, this can drive increased engagement. Of course, getting patients to respond to feedback requests is the challenge.

Patients have shown a particular willingness to respond to feedback requests via text. In fact, of the various channels available, text messages have proven to be the best method for collecting net promoter score (NPS) data, capturing insights from unhappy patients, and encouraging satisfied patients to leave positive online reviews. Luma Health data shows that texts requesting patient feedback deliver a response rate of 27 percent among patients between the ages of 18 to 34, and an overall response rate of 38 percent. This is considerably higher than the 19 percent overall response rate for emails. The key to drawing the best response is to text patients on the same day as their appointment.

Younger patients who tend to be healthier are less likely to have healthcare top of mind. If millennials don’t initiate communication or proactively engage, it puts pressure on healthcare teams to find ways to engage these patients. Many healthcare practices have been slow to adopt texting as way to engage patients. However, texting is not only easy to implement, but research is showing that text messages are effective and preferred by millennials, and other patient groups as well. Want to know more? Download this report to see actual response rates by age and region for text messages and other forms of communication: Patient Engagement In 2020

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