Patients Prefer Texting Docs to Portal Communication, Survey Finds

Feb. 18, 2019

Only 10 percent of patients prefer to receive physician communications via patient portals, whereas twice that many (20 percent) favor receiving information via secure text messages when in-person and phone calls are not an option, according to a new survey.

The research, 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.

The online survey included responses from 199 consumers/patients who visit the doctor at least once every six months.

While data from the American Hospital Association (AHA) has shown that 93 percent of hospitals now allow patients online access to electronic health records (EHRs) via patient portals, due to privacy and security concerns, healthcare providers have traditionally avoided text messaging when communicating with patients, their families, or colleagues.

The results of this latest survey 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,” G. Cameron Deemer, president of DrFirst, 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.”