The Most Important App in Healthcare

Blog, Opinion

It’s all too easy for industries to get caught up in adopting new technologies just to keep pace. “Everyone is building a custom app/portal/website, so that must be the answer.” Or so the thinking goes.

For all the talk of human-centered design and patient-centered care, we rarely pause to seriously consider the patient’s daily life and needs. We have a pretty good idea of what patients need from a healthcare perspective, but why don’t we contemplate more deeply how to deliver that care?

Ideally, patients would get access to the right information and tools at best time for acting on it. Instead, we lean towards giving access to all the information and tools, all the time. We’re essentially off-loading the difficult work to the patient, forcing them to take the initiative and find what they need, when they need it. It doesn’t work.

This laziness has resulted in apps that get 2% engagement and patient portals that are logged into once by less than a third of patients. These low engagement statistics remain true despite increased phone/web usage and access. It’s not that people don’t want a connection with their doctor. It’s that healthcare doesn’t understand how people use their devices and how they access information.

Information is social. Most people get their news from friends. They don’t go out looking for it… it comes to them in a message shared by a friend on Facebook or in a conversation. Conversations are the most effective tool for sharing information.

So, it should come as no surprise that the number one used app on cell phones is quick, easy to do, doesn’t require you to pause what you’re doing, and has been around longer than the iPhone. It’s text (sms). And if it’s not already part of your patient outreach and engagement strategy, it should be.

For those practices that perceive texting as being less personal than other forms of communication, think for a moment about who you receive phone calls and emails from. Now think about who you text with.

If you’re like most people, you mostly text with friends and family, making it one of the most personal things we do every day. As a provider, when you text, you’re placing your business on the same level as your patients’ nearest and dearest.

Need more reasons to think “text” when you think about patient-centered engagement? Here are 4 thought-provoking statistics that reveal why texting is the answer in healthcare, too.


  • Everyone – not just the young – is texting. Adults under 45 send and receive 85+ texts every day, on average, while adults 45-54 send and receive 33 texts a day, and adults 55+ send and receive 16 texts a day.
  • People prefer text most for scheduling or changing appointments. In fact, 78% of people wish they could have a text conversation with a business, and 64% of consumers are likely to have a positive perception of companies that offer communication via text.
  • Response rates from text are 209% higher than those from phone calls, and verification rates (positive or “yes” responses) are 295% higher through text, compared to phone calls.
  • Texting is highest rated contact method for customer satisfaction compared to all other communication channels (Text – 90; Phone – 77; Facebook – 66).

Make text, email and voice an integral part of your patient engagement.