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4 reasons why patients prefer texts over calls

There’s a popular meme floating around the internet that says “if it’s textable, please don’t call me. Thanks.” As it turns out, this is supported by several recent survey results concluding that people prefer to get texts over calls. According to Open Market, 19% of survey participants admitted to not listening to voicemail messages and 75% said they’d prefer to have a text-only phone over a voice-only phone. Practices that are using Chain SMS have seen patient experience improve since they’ve started using the software to message patients. Chain users tell us all the time that patients love getting texts from them, and that they prefer SMS communication over phone calls, voicemails and letters. The reasons for this preference are varied, so we’ve taken our user feedback and summed up the top 4 reasons why patients favour getting texts over calls…


1. Patients feel more valued

Patients that miss calls from their GPs or surgeries often met with busy phone lines when they ring back, leading to a game of telephone tag which is frustrating and time consuming for everyone involved. Because of how busy GPs are here in the UK, they often rely on their support staff to relay messages back to their patients. GPs using Chain have found that texting their patients through Chain is faster than tasking the reception team to call them in EMIS. Patients really appreciate this direct and timely communication too. Once user shared,

the patients feel more important to their doctor. As the text comes directly from their GP, it means more.”

2. They can refer back to texts

Smart phones have eliminated the need for lots of day to day necessities such as maps, notebooks, etc. Most of us aren’t always equipped with a pen and paper and aren’t prepared to take notes every time the phone rings. The anxiety of not knowing what to expect from an incoming phone call encourages a lot of people to ignore phone calls. Taking important phone calls can be particularly stressful for patients that are hard of hearing or suffer from various learning disabilities that makes processing verbal information difficult.

When patients can refer back to messages from their doctor, there’s less confusion and a higher likelihood that the patient will engage in their care plan. The ability to refer back to texts is also helpful for English-as-a-second-language patients. One user tweeted,

“excellent for those who speak English as a 2nd language too. I couldn’t explain the test results to my patient on the phone today so she wanted a text as she could easily translate it! Fantastic and time saving and cut out the need for an interpreter.”

Chain will also soon be supporting foreign language characters and a translating feature, so users can send texts in their patient’s chosen language.


3. It’s less obtrusive

Let’s face it, there’s never really a convenient time to answer an unplanned phone call, especially one from your doctor that may contain sensitive or private information. 63% of participants in Open Market’s survey echoed this notion, saying they “prefer texts because they’re less disruptive than a voice call.” We recommend that Chain only be used to send non-sensitive information (such as appointment information, normal test results, or anything that could otherwise be sent in a letter). But for sensitive information, GPs can still text their patients and ask that they call the practice at their earliest convenience. A practice manager in Oxfordshire shared,

“A lot of our patient population work on the production lines at the local manufacturing plant and can’t have their phones on them. They would often miss calls from us. With Chain SMS the problem is solved—they can see the message and get in touch.”

Another user shared,

“Patients are delighted that we have finally moved into the 21st century! Patients also find it more convenient (e.g. no interruptions at work).”

4. They never check voicemails

A 2014 study by eVoice reported that only 18% of respondents listen to voicemails from people they don’t know. Since most people don’t have their GP’s number saved, this statistic is likely to be higher for primary care patients. One user shared,

“we noticed that patients ring back soon after they receive a text message…the same patients that ignored letters and voicemails in the past!”

Chain SMS is now used in over 1200 practices across England, Wales and Jersey. Even better, Chain takes less than two minutes to install! You can just download it to try out or you can install for everyone at your practice. You can find a guide to installing here.

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