At the heart of healthcare, there may be nothing more important than time and attention, particularly when it comes to a health emergency. The current pandemic is a prime example. According to Johns Hopkins, fewer people are keeping to regular appointments and putting off preventive screenings while hospitals and healthcare systems are still in crisis mode with another spike in cases across the country. Pre-COVID, the healthcare industry relied mostly on face-to-face patient communication though there has been a gradual shift toward new digital technologies that are aimed at increasing patient engagement and promoting preventive care.
Although the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provided evidence in 2014 that mobile messaging improves consumer health knowledge, behaviors and outcomes, it is just now becoming an essential tool for providers who are realizing the need for timely communication with patients not only regarding COVID but also existing healthcare issues and concerns. For example, Kaiser Permanente has been utilizing short message service (SMS) texting since 2015, when it began a one-month pilot program to test the efficacy of messaging to contain communication costs while keeping engagement high.