Patient Engagement, Health IT

Survey: When communicating with a physician, patients prefer secure texting to patient portals

In a survey of 199 consumers, 19.6 percent said they prefer to get secure text messages from their physician when in-person discussions and phone calls aren’t an option, while 10 percent said they prefer to receive physician communications via patient portals.

A new survey from DrFirst, a company that provides e-prescribing and medication management solutions, took a closer look at how healthcare consumers like to communicate with their provider.

The online survey included responses from 199 patients who visit the doctor at least once every six months. The survey participants fell into various age groups: ages 18-24 (18 percent); 25-34 (25 percent); 45-54 (16 percent) and over 54 (about 25 percent).

Of all the respondents, 19.6 percent said they prefer to receive secure text messages from their physician when in-person discussions and phone calls aren’t an option. Only 10 percent indicated they prefer to receive physician communications via patient portals.

Additionally, the survey found that depending on the type of message, 83 percent of patients would welcome reminders from their physicians about checking blood pressure, completing rehabilitation exercises, taking prescribed medications, scheduling follow-up appointments or other similar activities.

Plus, 91 percent of surveyed individuals said they’d like to be able to communicate with their loved one’s care team via text messaging.

“The survey results confirm our observation that patients want to be more engaged in their care and desire more options for interacting with their healthcare providers using the same communication methods they regularly use in every other part of their life,” DrFirst president G. Cameron Deemer said in a statement. “Clinicians who use secure text messaging to connect with patients and their family members can improve patient satisfaction, drive medication adherence, and empower patients to be more actively involved in their health and wellness.”

Numerous startups within the healthcare space are capitalizing on consumers’ interest in texting. Medici, a company headquartered in Austin, Texas, has a messaging app that allows patients to text all their doctors — including their physician, dentist, therapist and veterinarian — from a single platform. Another startup, San Francisco-based Luma Health, has a cloud-based messaging platform that enables patients and providers to communicate. Consumers don’t have to download an app to utilize Luma Health’s features. Instead, they receive automated text messages directly to their phone.

Photo: exdez, Getty Images