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Survey: Patients prefer secure texting over patient portal communication from their physicians

Only 10 percent of patients prefer to receive physician communications via patient portals, whereas twice that many (19.6 percent) favor receiving information via secure text messages when in-person and phone calls are not an option. The new survey, conducted by DrFirst, a provider of e-prescribing and patient medication management solutions, also found that more than 90 percent of respondents would like the ability to communicate via secure text messaging with a family member’s care team if that loved one were ill.

According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), 93 percent of hospitals now allow patients online access to electronic health records (EHRs) via patient portals. However, due to privacy and security concerns, healthcare providers have traditionally avoided text messaging when communicating with patients, their families, or colleagues. The survey results suggest that despite widespread access to patient portals, physicians should consider secure messaging alternatives to satisfy consumers’ strong preference for text messaging when phone calls or in-person discussions are not feasible.

The survey findings also indicate that the majority of consumers would find it beneficial to receive reminders from their physician about simple behaviors that could improve their health. Depending on the type of message, 83 percent of respondents would welcome reminders from their doctors about taking prescribed medications, checking blood pressure, completing rehabilitation exercises, scheduling follow-up appointments, or similar tasks.

“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,” said G. Cameron Deemer, president of DrFirst. “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.”

High demand for secure text messaging between family members and care teams

With about 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day, healthcare providers are facing a growing need to communicate with their patients’ family members. According to the DrFirst survey, 91 percent of respondents would like the ability to communicate with their loved one’s care team via text messaging—a communication method that eliminates common phone tag delays. A secure text messaging alternative would allow caregivers and a patient’s family members to stay connected, without placing a patient’s privacy at risk.

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