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healthcare communication trends

The new report – Trends in Patient Communications – found 43 percent of patients report poor communication from providers negatively impacted health; texting seen as a valuable way to communicate

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – December 19, 2023 – Artera, a SaaS digital health leader in patient communications, today announced the results from a patient survey, Trends in Patient Communications, which studied more than 2,000 patients responsible for their own healthcare decisions. The survey uncovered that healthcare provider communication methods, which are often over the phone or via simplistic text exchanges, may leave patients frustrated or even worse.

According to the data, nearly half (45 percent) of patients surveyed have missed or forgotten to pay a bill because of difficulties communicating with their providers’ offices. Additionally, 43 percent reported these challenges negatively impacted their health, which can result from an inability to schedule appointments, issues communicating important health information, or similar breakdowns.

Given these challenges and the fact that many patients are forced to catch their providers’ offices on the phone, an overwhelming majority of survey respondents (79 percent) want providers to improve their healthcare experience by enabling them to initiate a text-based conversation on any topic. Automated text exchanges with healthcare providers are increasingly common, and the survey found that many patients (77 percent) find them valuable.

Healthcare providers not living up to patient expectations may face financial consequences, according to the report. Nearly three-in-five (59 percent) patients are willing to switch doctors if they are provided a broken communications experience. 

Understanding how patients want to communicate with their healthcare providers is core to Artera, which works with hundreds of the most prestigious provider organizations and federal agencies. Partnering with independent market research firm PureSpectrum, Artera used this survey to both determine patients’ preferences and uncover how different communication methods stack up in consumers’ minds. 

Text messaging with healthcare providers is increasingly important, but patients are often frustrated by simplistic text messaging experiences.

Approximately 75 percent of patients report most of their healthcare provider text message experiences are simplistic exchanges that only allow for one-time responses like “yes” or “no” – a strategy that often falls short of expectations. In fact, the study found that 69 percent of patients report being frustrated by an inability to engage in conversational text exchanges with their healthcare providers. Approximately 79 percent characterized their frustration level from moderate to extreme.

Two-thirds (66 percent) reported instances where their text messaging experience was incomplete, leaving them unsatisfied. Nearly a third (31 percent) of patients reported that – when texting with their healthcare providers — they didn’t achieve what they wanted at least half the time. Of that group, 81% ended up having to call to complete the conversation, defeating the whole purpose of text messaging with healthcare providers.

However, beyond not achieving the goals of a text conversation with their providers, many patients report issues when text messaging. Approximately 62 percent said error messages, invalid responses or never hearing back from providers happened “half the time” or more – with a surprising one in four (23 percent) actually reporting it occurred “always.” Additionally:

  • 68 percent report receiving repetitive messages from their doctors via various communication channels; and
  • 65 percent report receiving a string of messages that were out of order or jumbled.

The Artera Patient Communication Preferences Report is the latest intelligence report on provider communications produced by the Artera. In December 2022, the company released results from a report of clinical support staff, finding that broken and outdated patient-communication strategies are contributing to high levels of staff burnout. Artera plans to release the next version of the clinical support staff report next year.

The full report, Trends in Patient Communications, is available for download here

About Artera 

Artera is a SaaS digital health leader redefining patient communications. Artera is trusted by 700+ healthcare systems and federal agencies to facilitate approximately 2.2 billion messages annually, reaching 100+ million patients. The Artera platform integrates across a healthcare organization’s tech stack, EHRs and third-party vendors to unify, simplify and orchestrate digital communications into the patient’s preferred channel (texting, email,  IVR, and webchat), in 109+ languages. The Artera impact: more efficient staff, more profitable organizations and a more harmonious patient experience.

Founded in 2015, Artera is based in Santa Barbara, California and has been named a Deloitte Technology Fast 500 company (2021, 2022, 2023), and ranked on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies for four consecutive years. Artera is a two-time Best in KLAS winner in Patient Outreach

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