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SMS Text Messaging

SMS (Short Message Service) text messaging is a low-barrier communication method to connect with patients and is available on all cell phones.

When to use it

  • Quick check-ins and follow up 
  • Appointment reminders
  • Educational information exchange 

Best use

  • 2-way exchange of text (SMS) and images (MMS) with patients/clients

Technical requirements

  • PHSA cell phone that can be used by the health care team
  • Turning off all ‘cloud’ functions to only use SMS text messaging

Benefits 

  • Easy to use if you have a PHSA cell phone – no account set up
  • Easy for patients to use if they have a cell phone 
  • Fast, convenient, accessible 

Privacy and Security 

  • Privacy Review completed by the Office of Virtual Health 

Risk and limitation

  • Patient has health care team cell phone number – could make phone calls
  • No guarantee that patient is viewing/will respond to messages
  • No guarantee that message is received – SMS text message has a 98% delivery rate globally
  • Could be sent to the wrong patient 
  • No encryption/not secure
  • Difficult to document text message conversations in patient records (EMR)
  • Undefined period of time that patient’s cell phone number and text conversations stored on PHSA cell phone
  • No analytics 

Guidelines and policy

GET STARTED with SMS TEXT

Step 1

Introduce Virtual Health to patients
Introduce Virtual Health to patients by phone/email/text. Check the technical readiness of your patients. Obtain the patient’s personal email and send an initial email to validate their email address and provide notification of risks (see APPENDIX 1: Client Notification Form, and APPENDIX 2: sample validation script).

Step 2
Add patients cell phone number to your PHSA cell phone
Storing patient contact info can include: 
  • Patient’s name
  • PHN
  • Cell phone number
Step 3
Text the patient tips listed below 
Copy and paste these key points to patients: 
  • Do not email or text us if you have an emergency. If you have an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the closest emergency department
  • This phone is not continuously monitored
  • Connect with us for: Quick check-ins and follow up; appointment reminders; educational information 
Step 4
Text message with patient
  • Quick check-ins and follow up 
  • Appointment reminders
  • Educational information
Step 5
Log the result in Tracker (optional)
After the visit, email/text the patient experience survey link (optional). Document encounter in patient record as usual.
OVH will contact you regularly to understand your experience so far and provide support as needed. 


SOURCE: SMS Text Messaging ( )
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