Cropped shot of a doctor using his cellphone increasing patient engagement by texting a patient

Texting While Doctoring? Improving Engagement with Younger Patients

Is it appropriate for medical professionals to text their patients? According to a recent study, it could actually help the long-term health of younger patients. Though some privacy and legal concerns need be addressed, medical professionals should consider new engagement strategies with texting.

Past studies have shown that young people, particularly those with long-term health problems such as diabetes or cystic fibrosis become more easily frustrated than older patients and become disengaged. This results in degrading health and additional costs for health organizations.

Including text messages into other traditional communications such as email, phone, and face-to-face appointments could be beneficial. A past study showed texting did the following:

  • Patients communicated more regularly with medical professionals and helped build trust.
  • Patients used texting for simple questions like how to handle nausea or advice on organizing their medications throughout the day.
  • Texting is more convenient for younger patients who are typically busy with class and after school activities.

In fact, texting has become the preferred form of communication for millennials. A recent study has shown that text messaging now outranks regular phone calls as the dominant form of communication. If doctors want to provide effective communication to young patients, they may have no choice but to embrace texting.

While texting young patients does show promise, there are some issues hospitals and clinics must consider before beginning. It’s extremely important to consult with legal professionals before any communications strategy begins. Privacy laws are extremely strict and lawsuits could be costly if a plan is not thoroughly vetted. In addition, there is the concern of extra time doctors and nurses must commit to text patients. Though additional costs may incur, the study shows long-term benefits from healthier young patients could outweigh short-term costs.

Texting has become the preferred form of communication among young patients and should be embraced. For detailed help on how to get started, implement patient engagements strategies, and how to optimize them, consider teaming up with HealthGrid.