3 Factors That Make a SMS Aggregator Great

There are many SMS aggregators on the market today, but they aren’t interchangeable. To ensure that your company chooses the best aggregator for your needs, consider three important factors:

1. Speed

Whether your organization needs to reach customers with targeted messages like; client check-ins, appointment reminders, or even delivery logistic updates, speed of delivery is important. Compared to phone calls, emails and snail-mail, SMS has a major advantage: Real time delivery.

While postcards get tossed in the recycle bin and promotional emails lie dormant in unchecked mailboxes, text messages get noticed. In fact, Dynmark found that 90 percent of text messages are opened within 3 seconds. For many people, the chime of an incoming message is just too hard to ignore.

It’s of no value getting a message alert from your dentist late. It annoys you and makes your dentist’s office look bad.

Real time SMS offers a huge advantage over other forms of communication, especially when the content of the messages is personalized, relevant and important. A SMS aggregator should be able to deliver your content in a quick and efficient manner too. Your organization will benefit from almost instantaneous communication with customers and clients. Remember: Speed of delivery has a direct relationship to relevancy of your text message. Choose your text message SMS aggregator wisely.

2. Capacity

In today’s business environment, capacity plays an important role. In the past, it would take an enormous effort to prepare and send direct-mail flyers and postcards to an extensive mailing list. Now, organizations can achieve the same bulk messaging load with much less effort, but with this management consideration:

Always take care to ensure proper opt-in compliance. Message recipients have to implicitly agree to you contacting them via text messaging and to why you are contacting them. SPAM is not allowed.

So take note of a SMS aggregator that will assist you in capacity management and SPAM management best practices. Your choice of aggregator is critical. A good aggregator can advise you not only in setup and technical configurations of your SMS API calls, but help guide you in meeting the proper regulatory guidelines to improve your message content. Capacity management in terms of velocity (the amount of messaging you may place in the queue at anytime), can be adversely affected by mistakenly connecting using a less than optimal API syntax. A superior aggregator will give you guidance with support to provide real value in making your SMS API connection services agile. This is especially important when sending long messages that need to be concatenated.

Concatenation is when a long message is automatically split into multiple messages and reassembled in order, as a single message, on the receiver’s device. Once again, an effective aggregator will take care of this complex work for the user, saving them from the headache of additional work. So it’s important to closely examine the aggregator’s feature list to ensure that it can handle a bulk load of concatenated messages nimbly and efficiently.

3. Reach

Your customers and clients likely use smartphones from a spectrum of wireless carriers. To ensure that messages get delivered intact and on time, you need to select a SMS aggregator with superior reach and quality routing services. When auditioning an aggregator, ask them who their big messaging clients are, with this in mind:

Aggregators that encourage “SPAM Like” content to mobile marketers do not have quality routing and reach, because their numbers have been blocked by Telcos due to abuse. Choose them and expect poor message reach statistics.

Bulk mail service providers offering text messaging aggregation services are often plagued by SPAM, because so much of bulk mail is just that – SPAM. Critical messaging over recent years has moved away from e-mail to text messaging for this very reason. It is wise to separate your text messaging services from bulk mail services.

When you send messages, they get routed via various data networks. Your SMS aggregator needs to support each of the networks used by your organization, as well as those used by your clients. This work should be all but unnoticeable to the end user, who simply experiences a flawless transmission of data, but you need to concern yourself with these behind the scenes tasks, as you select an aggregator for your business organization’s text messaging requirements.

Are There Other Factors of a Superior SMS Aggregator?

Beyond speed, capacity and reach, there are other factors too. Experience with clients in the same business as you is invaluable. Quick and accurate response from Support when you have a problem is important too. This is especially true when Custom Message Handlers connecting SMS API routines are in your development requirements.

Learn other benefits of what a superior SMS aggregator can offer your business by visiting SwiftSMSGateway.com today.

Concatenation Support Importance Increases

Concatenation support importance is increasing. It is due to the popularity of rich text formats like iMessage and Rich Communication Services (RCS). SMS text message standards bridge them, but it’s the efforts of some aggregators and our diligence that is helping to improve the end-user experience by ensuring longer messages arrive in the right order. Consider many people take for granted when they tap out longer SMS text message and hit send, the message reaches its destination intact, as sent. Today, it’s easier than ever to communicate with clients and customers across the globe. From email to video chat, it only takes a moment to connect with anyone who owns a smart device. In this culture of constant accessibility, people forget all of the complicated work. Modern communication is so intuitive.

Seamless communication of lengthy SMS text messages can only be achieved with a behind-the-scenes mechanism called concatenation.

SMS messages have a limit to how much data they contain. Generally, a text message can deliver up to 1,120 bits of information. Every character in a Latinate language such as English, or Spanish uses 7 bits. Therefore, a single SMS message can contain up to 160 characters. Non-Latinate languages such as Chinese use 16 bits per character, limiting their length to 70 characters per message.

What Can Happen If Concatenation Is Not Supported?

Some SMS aggregators like Swift SMS Gateway support concatenation, managing relationships between wireless carriers and network peers. We build it into our services seamlessly. This means that if a message must be split, each chunk of a long message will arrive on the receiver’s device in order. Other aggregators may only partially support this feature. In some cases, a message may arrive, but its pieces will be out of order. This can confuse recipients and they may assume the message is corrupt. Rich Text formats such as iMessage and the alternative, Google’s RCS, rely on SMS aggregation standards to peer these two communication formats. Effectively, messaging sent between Androids and Apple iPhones will default to SMS to bridge these two message formats.

As Rich Text formats increase in popularity, it is likely message lengths will get longer still, so concatenation support will be even more important.

A device using concatenation adds instructions to each message. This designates the order that a text message should be assembled once received.

SMS text messaging contains two parts:

  1. The Data Header – Routing information such as which phone number sent the message and who will receive it.
  2. The Payload – The content of the message.

When a user inputs a long message, the device will separate it into sections and label each with a number that corresponds to its position in the overall message. Unfortunately, this introduces another complication: Remember that 1,120-bit limit per message? Concatenation instructions take up a little more room. This reduces how much information the payload can contain. End-users should never know the difference, making it appear seamless, but it complicates things for developers.

Ensure Your SMS Aggregator Supports Concatenation

SMS concatenation should be the standard for all text message aggregators like Swift SMS Gateway. Many aggregators and mobile marketers are still playing catch-up. Businesses can’t afford to worry about how their messages will look to each and every customer and client. That’s why Swift SMS Gateway takes care of all the behind-the-scenes development work for you. Our easy-to-use SMS API plans offer everything you’ll need in a text message service. We’ll take care of the technical details, so you can focus on growing your business.

Only with proper concatenation, can you be certain your SMS text messages will arrive as intended.

Rest assured your business’ text message communications support concatenation with your existing Swift SMS API plan. If you’re not using Swift SMS yet, try a free demo today of up to 50 messages.

Improve Your Toll-Free Number With SMS

Toll-Free have been around forever. It has improved customer service for many businesses. Today, Toll-Free has evolved and is used even more. If your company has a Toll-Free number as part of your customer service centre or appointment reminder system, take it to the next level: Add text by connecting to a SMS API from a text message aggregator.

Toll-Free 800 series numbers can now send and receive text on select aggregators.

Benefits of Toll-Free SMS

  1. Professionalism – Use one universal customer/client facing business line for text and voice.
  2. Responsiveness  Texting back clients can improve support.
  3. Documentation – Help recall important info via a simple text message.
  4. Reduced Hold Times – Make customers happy. Don’t keep them waiting.

The above four benefits offer compelling reasons to add SMS text messaging to your Toll-Free service.  Of course, domestic text messaging has no long distance fees regardless, but your business can now use text messaging providing a seamless point of communication for your business. You cannot ignore that text messaging is now the preferred way a lot of people want to communicate.

75 percent of millennials would rather text than call. This group considers SMS more convenient, less disruptive and more memorable than traditional phone calls.

Source: Open Market

Beyond customer service departments, Toll-Free SMS can also benefit medical offices, auto repair shops and other businesses that schedule appointments. These organizations can use texting to send out appointment reminders, which is how millennials prefer to be reminded. Toll-Free numbers look professional, and are very convenient too.

Combine Toll-Free and a SMS Aggregator

Toll-Free SMS may not be a service your current 800 service provider has and it gives a reason to switch to an experienced SMS aggregator that offers Toll-Free. Adding Toll-Free SMS to your existing, or new line is easy and you don’t have to worry about disruption of service. Select SMS aggregators that offer the service can manage the setup for you.

Swift SMS Gateway makes the process of adding SMS functionality as easy as possible. Toll-Free SMS is an add-on service available for API 2 and API 3, and Small Biz service clients. Our APIs are fast to roll out, so your organization can act quickly. With unlimited access to a library of simple scripts and the global reach of over 800 phone carriers, the possibilities available to your business are endless.

Learn how to add Toll-Free to your existing Swift SMS API plan, or if you’re not using Swift SMS yet, try a free demo today of up to 50 messages.

How SMS Notifications Improve Patient Engagement

 

Reaching patients at home has never been easier, but there’s a big difference between contacting a patient and actually getting his or her attention. Health care organizations that engage patients with technology can see a number of desirable benefits. However, those organizations need to choose their method of communication carefully to see the best results.

Why is Patient Engagement Important?

If you’ve spent any time on the administrative side of the health care industry, you’ve likely heard the term patient engagement bandied about. But what does it actually mean? And is it worth investing in?

Put simply, patient engagement is a somewhat nebulous measurement of how well patients pay attention to their personal health care. A patient who is disengaged might forget his appointments, neglect his medication or misunderstand his doctor’s orders. An engaged patient, on the other hand, is more likely attend her scheduled appointments, take an active role in becoming healthier and utilize additional resources such as a patient portal platform.

According to Healthcare IT News, other benefits of patient engagement efforts include improved patient satisfaction, better quality of care and safety as well as optimized financial and operational efficiency. In other words, when patients become more engaged with their personal health, everyone wins. The patients are more likely to lead healthy lives and the providers are more likely to protect their revenue cycle.

SMS appointment reminders can boost patient satisfaction.SMS appointment reminders can boost patient satisfaction.

Appointment Reminders: Call vs Email vs SMS

One of the most important patient engagement tools currently available is the automated appointment reminder. Patients lead busy lives, and that often means that health takes a back seat to more immediately pressing matters. In the long run, that’s bad for patient health. Appointment reminders help patients stay up-to-date with their care plan.

Many care organizations leverage automated telephone calls to remind patients of upcoming appointments. However, this method is far from effective. Researchers from Sheffield Hallam University found that telephone reminders have a success rate of between 30 and 60 percent. Email reminders aren’t any better. SmartInsights reported that health and fitness emails have a 21.93 percent open rate, and a click-through rate of just 2.57 percent. SMS appointment reminders, however, have a read-rate of 97 to 99 percent.

Other Uses for SMS

SMS reminders have a number of uses beyond scheduling appointments. Another key area of patient engagement is post-visit care. Patients come to their doctor, receive advice or medication, and go home with their instructions. How can physicians be sure their patients are following through with their care plan?

Care organizations can use SMS to easily and discreetly follow up with patients after a visit. These reminders help patients follow post-op care practices and stay on their medication regimen. In the long run, this interactive line of communication will help to boost patient health as well as the overall health of the community.

Setting up SMS appointment reminders is easy. To learn more about how to implement this powerful solution at your organization, visit SwiftSMSGateway.com today.

Are Chatbots the Future of Customer Service?

 

No one likes waiting on hold to speak with a customer service representative. Let’s face it: When you have a problem with a product or service, you’re likely already in a bad mood. And listening to grating hold music isn’t likely to improve your attitude.

Around the world, companies are battling this problem by implementing SMS chatbots to automatically handle problems in an intuitive manner.

Human or Machine?

In recent years, chatbots have evolved to the point where many end users can’t tell the difference between a customer service robot and an actual human. Granted, customers with highly specific or unique problems will soon notice when they exit the realm of the robot’s programmed knowledge. However, when the bulk of customer issues are non-novel, a chatbot can typically resolve those issues without human intervention. In fact, a study by Tagove found that roughly 80 percent of chat sessions have been resolved by chatbots alone.

As chatbot software becomes more complex and better at imitating human language patterns, it will be able to provide a high level of customer service without making the end user feel neglected. For example, 79 percent of online shoppers would rather use a live chat function than call into a customer service hotline, because they don’t like to wait on hold, reported Econsultancy, citing data from BoldChat. Yet even live chat solutions may have hold time, especially during peak hours. A chatbot, however, can service any number of customers simultaneously.

How Chatbots Optimize Customer Service Processes

Chatbots won’t completely replace human customer service representatives any time soon. Until humans develop a generalized AI, humans will always be a necessary part of the equation. After all, chatbots can only provide answers that have been programmed into them. Instead, chatbots will augment the abilities of human representatives.

Think about it this way: Just as a robotic exoskeleton could help laborers lift heavy objects with ease, a chatbot helps call center employees keep up with customer demand.

Meredith Flynn-Ripley, vice president of mobile messaging at Salesforce, explained that SMS chatbots will boost human efforts as part of a hybrid customer service solution.

“Salesforce believes fundamentally that bots are going to be complementing your live staff. We really see bots as changing the job description and turning agents into intelligent problem solvers,” Flynn-Ripley told Business Insider.

Chatbots may be able to fully solve low-level problems, get the ball rolling on mid-tier issues, and pass off harder tasks to human agents. This process improves the customer experience while taking some of the burden off human workers.

Implementing an SMS Chatbot

Gartner predicts that by 2020, businesses will manage 85 percent of customer interactions without human intervention. If you want to get ahead of the curve, it’s time to invest in SMS chatbot technology. Thankfully, doing so is a lot easier than it might sound.

Using an SMS gateway, your business can implement a chatbot quickly and start interacting with customers almost immediately. To learn more about how easy it is to get set up, sign up for a free demo today!

Why Two-Factor Authentication is Important

Cyberattacks and data breaches are more prevalent than ever, and there’s no sign of this trend slowing down. Cybersecurity Ventures predicated that cybercrimes will cost $6 trillion globally by 2021. Two-factor authentication is one way organizations can protect themselves from extreme financial damage.

What is Single-Factor Authentication?

The majority of consumer-level applications and services rely on single-factor authentication to verify the user’s identity. Typically, users create a unique password attached to their accounts that only they know. This type of authentication is usually sufficient for app accounts that don’t hold much valuable information.

This type of account protection is fairly easy for a skilled hacker to penetrate. Infosec Institute reported that hackers can use phishing schemes to get users to unwittingly supply personal information. Likewise, Trojan viruses make it easy for hackers to break simple passwords. According to Infosec Institute, a five-character password has 10 billion possible combinations but only takes about 10 seconds to crack. However, just adding three more characters increases time-to-break to 115 days. A password that’s 10 characters long would take 3,000 years to crack, using the same method.

SwiftSMS

What is Two-Factor Authentication?

When hackers have more resources available to them, it becomes easier for them to breach an organization. Two-factor authentication makes things more difficult for them by adding a physical component to the equation.

For example, if an employee wants to log into her secure account, she would initiate the log-in process, then receive a unique, one-time code on her personal smartphone via SMS. The code authenticates her identity, so she can proceed to the password check.

Another factor would be biometrics. Many of today’s smartphones feature fingerprint scanners to make unlocking the device easy and quick, without reducing the level of security. Many apps, like mobile banking solutions, will give users the ability to link their fingerprint to their account.

Why Should Organizations Invest in Two-Factor Authentication?

The simple truth is that organizations are more likely to experience a data breach than not. According to an IBM and Ponemon survey, 89 percent of organizations suffer data breaches, costing businesses $141 billion globally.

This is an especially important consideration for small businesses. According to the U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance, 60 percent of small businesses cannot sustain themselves after a data breach. That means that even if just one employee mismanages their passwords, it could open the business up to an unsustainable level of risk.

Implementing two-factor authentication at your organization is easy. Contact the experts at SwiftSMSGateway.com to learn more.

How Government Agencies Can Benefit From SMS

Government employees can conserve time and resources when information retrieval is made easy for them. Today, a lot of information runs on text messaging. Connecting SMS into the communication platforms of your agency makes sense. Consistent, reliable communication with constituents is a key factor in keeping the public engaged and informed, too.

Here’s how SMS can benefit government agencies:

Improving Government Interdepartmental Communications

Each department manager has priorities. Working together can stress time, resources and information between departments. Whose projects should be prioritized? Where will the biggest impact be felt?

Interdepartmental communication suffers when relying on old communication channels. Email and voicemail are slow and approaching obsolescence. Old mail can sit unread in inboxes, phone conversations can be difficult to organize and busy calendars are frustrating to sync. SMS messages, however, are quick to use and reliable. Even when personnel aren’t near a computer, they can still send and receive text messages, bypassing the bottleneck of overstuffed inboxes.

“There’s no better way to contact constituents than with SMS messaging, because texting has reach and speed.”

In many cases, it only takes a few seconds to receive, read and respond to a text message. Rather than waiting for days to schedule a meeting, your staff members can talk to one another remotely without special technology.

Engaging Local Constituents With Alerts

People are distracted. According to Pew Research Center, 4 out of 10 American adults get their news from online sources, but TV, radio and newspapers still make up a significant portion. Bombardment with advertising makes it difficult for people to get facts.

SMS alerts can cut through chatter and reach constituents directly. This is more effective than emailed notifications, because text messages have a much higher open and read rate than emails. According to Greg Murphy, mobile product manager for Salesforce, text messages have a 98 percent open rate, and 90 percent of texts are opened within three minutes. Not even social media marketing tactics can beat those numbers.

There’s no better way to contact constituents than with SMS messaging, because texting has reach and speed. The key is to avoid solicitation and be conscious of spam regulations. Use common sense by not placing private information in SMS messaging. Also, be diligent in organizing proper Opt-In/Opt-Out management controls regardless of content. Campaign donation broadcasts should be run on dedicated Short-Codes.

Streamlining Government Transparency and Oversight

Another benefit of using SMS is the increased transparency it provides. Rather than letting public employees use their personal accounts, an established SMS API run by an administrator allows for improved oversight and reduces compliance risks. Administrators can keep a detailed digital record of every message when proper API integration connects to management platforms.

Public sector IT research outlet GCN reported most agencies keep records of only email correspondence. Phone companies do not always keep records of text messages. If they do, those records are likely kept for only a few days before they disappear into the ether. Therefore, it falls on agencies to maintain text message records.

As your agency does when using a dedicated email server, you can centralize your text messages too. You do this by first choosing a reputable SMS Gateway and begin your SMS API integration. This can help in the goal of having a single, consistent communications policy that encompasses every contact channel.

An SMS API is simple to set up. Our experts provide 24/7 enterprise support at your request, with standard and professional support also available. Custom integration and consulting is available to meet your requirements. Swift SMS Gateway is facilities-based and operates in Canada.

To learn more about how to leverage SMS at your government agency, sign up for a free demo.

Why Bank Alerts Are More Important Than Ever

Reports of hacks on credit reporting agency Equifax and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have dominated recent news. Millions of Americans are worried their personal and financial data is hacked. SMS integration into 2FA security routines used in Bank Alerts are a first-line defence against hackers attacking your bank account.

CBC News reported approximately 100,000 Canadians were also affected by the Equifax breach, potentially exposing credit card numbers, insurance information and personal addresses.

Since word of the hack broke, hundreds of thousands of consumers have frozen their credit, applied for identity theft protections and complained to government officials. Class-action lawsuits may result. Consumers want action to prevent future trouble.

What Do the Recent Hacks Mean For Banks?

Bank customers have questions about the recent security breaches. If someone's personal information was compromised, it's easy for criminals to apply for new lines of credit, open accounts, or drain existing accounts.

Business Insider's Lauren Lyons Cole is a certified financial planner. She cautioned her readers to monitor their credit reports and bank accounts for suspicious activities. They should take these kinds of steps regardless of an imminent threat. Banks with monitoring services such as text notifications have a leg up over competitors that don't. SMS bank alerts are helping by giving timely response to security threats on client bank accounts and validating account use.

SwiftSMS

Who Needs Protection Against Identity Theft?

The short answer is everyone. The private information of over 143 million individuals was compromised in the Equifax breach.

Consider this: In early July, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the American population at 323.1 million with 22.8 percent of the population under age 18. That leaves approximately 249.4 million adults. If the situation were a raffle lottery, the average adult would have 143:106 odds of winning – that is, getting their identity stolen. That's about a 57 percent chance of being affected by the hack.

In dealing with hackers one thing is certain: Consumers and financial institutions need to be vigilant. There's no way to tell when, or if the information will be sold, or used for malicious purposes.

How Can Text Notifications Help Identity Theft Victims?

Bank alerts cannot stop an identity thief, but they can make it easier for victims to take action before their finances are seriously harmed. Text notifications can alert consumers when their accounts are accessed, or if a new account has been opened in their names. Best of all, they are a long-term, automatic solution to a problem that likely won't go away and has proven to be a cornerstone in 2FA security routines using SMS as a preferred alert medium.

Remember, Social Security numbers don't expire. So when consumers' information gets out, it can come back to haunt them for the rest of their lives. Bank alerts can help consumers stay vigilant without needing to personally monitor their accounts every day for decades.

Implementing an SMS notification system is easy if you are dealing with the right SMS aggregator. Being a pioneer in SMS 2FA validations starting a decade ago, Swift SMS Gateway's API plans give IT professionals customized support to achieve their goals in a timely and cost-effective manner. Automated notification services free up personnel to tackle more complicated issues and provide consumers with piece of mind.

To learn more about how to implement text notifications at your bank, sign up for a free demo today.

Text Messaging Can Reduce Employee Procurement Time

In any industry, reducing the average time to hire is important for maintaining a steady bottom line. Text messaging can help.

Rushing through interviews may lead to unqualified candidates slipping through the cracks. Text messaging via SMS API integration can reducing the time it takes to engage with talented professionals and help find the best candidates faster.

Drawing skilled workers from a predefined talent pool is one of the best ways to decrease time to hire, because you already know and trust the people within the community. However, developing the talent community is the hardest part of hiring.

With SMS technology, you can improve engagement with otherwise unresponsive candidates through text messaging and quickly act on leads as they mature.

Building Talent Communities with Text Messaging

Networking is just as valuable for recruiters as it is for job seekers. The best recruiters are always establishing connections that branch out into online and in-person channels.

A talent community is a group of passive job seekers that recruiters have contacted through social media, or cold calling. Most talent communities are tenuous at best, because recruiters lack the time and resources to keep this amorphous address book up-to-date. Additionally, talent communities are susceptible to competing engagement efforts. Without constant attention, talent communities may break apart due to competing forces.

With the right technology, however, recruiters can leverage their talent communities into active resources for top-tier workers. Connecting to a SMS Gateway gives you an automated solution to reach targeted professionals via a simple text message.

How to Use Text Messaging to Engage Talent

According to an ERE Media study, roughly 60 percent of recruiters use text messaging to contact recruits. In addition to person-to-person communications, recruiters rely on text messaging services to automate screening questions in batches during the qualification process.

"Text messages have a 98% open rate."

That's just one use for SMS technology. Engagement levels have the potential to spike when a recruiter implements an SMS Gateway connection integrated directly into their recruitment platform. According to Mobile Marketing Watch, text messages have a 98 percent open rate compared to a 22 percent open rate for marketing emails. Speed of communication improves as well. Online marketing expert Jamie Turner reported that the average response time for a text message is 90 seconds, compared to 90 minutes for emails.

Today's professionals are never far from their smartphones, which makes texting a quick path forward for recruiters. For instance, if an open positions appears just right for a particular candidate, the recruiter can quickly reach out with more certainty that their message will be received, read and acknowledged.  

Optimizing Talent Resources

Specifically, recruiters can improve engagement and talent follow-through by texting interview reminders ahead of each appointment. This will help prevent no-shows and reduce the need to reschedule. Then, on the day of the meeting, you can automatically send location and time details to ensure punctuality.

Plus, recruiters can refer back to text conversations to aid their memory for specific details. So even when the conversation has lagged, recruiters always know where to pick back up. This would be impossible to achieve with a telephone call.

In sum, connecting a SMS API to your recruitment platform can improve your data collection, while stabilizing and optimizing talent communities. It allows you to leverage texting as a tool to build your talent pool database. Properly integrated with an SMS API, text messaging increases engagement levels, betters use of time and resources and best of all, reduces time to hire. These benefits are all within reach if you implement a texting strategy properly with a reputable SMS Gateway provider.

How SMS Notifications Improve Patient Engagement

Patient engagement is a common buzzword within the health care community, but it's more than just a tactic to increase patient spending. Indeed, one of the major goals of engagement efforts is to reduce the cost of care by empowering patients to take an active, informed role in their treatment plans.

Doctors' offices that engage their patients on a regular basis – not only when patients come in for an appointment – stand to gain increased patient loyalty, improved community health and a more knowledgeable patient population.

There are a number of patient engagement solutions available today, but SMS notification is one of the most powerful. According to a Dynmark International (now Compai) report, SMS messages have a 98 percent open rate compared to email's 20 to 30 percent open rate. In a clinical setting, this makes SMS a uniquely compelling way to reach patients at any stage of the care continuum.

Why Patient Engagement is More Important Than Ever

Recent regulatory changes have closely tied hospital reimbursements to quality standards. Specifically, the Quality Payment Program (QPP), a part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) incentivizes providers by offering significant payment adjustments to practices that document and submit improvement data.

To explain in greater detail, the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), one of two payment paths nested within the QPP, weighs the following categories to determine a potential payment adjustment:

  • Quality: This replaces the old Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS).
  • Improvement activities: Rewards physicians who focus on patient safety, care coordination and beneficiary engagement.
  • Advancing care information: Concerned with how care information is shared between providers, patients and state registries.

Patient engagement lies at the core of each of these categories. To understand how engagement affects reimbursements, it's helpful to understand how engagement differs from patient experience.

Dr. Adrienne Boissy, M.D., M.A., explained that while the patient experience deals with the actual treatment and care provided in a clinical setting, the goals of patient engagement are focused on reducing costs and empowering patients to take control of their health.

Engagement solutions such as health care portals achieve these goals by providing educational materials, secure messaging platforms and communication before and after appointments.

SWIFT SMS

How Practice Automation Frees Internal Resources

Practice automation can consist of any kind of technology that diverts human resources away from routine assignments and put them toward more complex tasks. For instance, an electronic health records system that displays lab results would free up the phone lines so that administrative staff can focus on other important patient needs.

SMS notifications work in the same manner. An SMS system can send patients appointment reminders and driving directions the day before their scheduled visits. This could help reduce the number of no-shows. That's nothing to sneeze at, either. According to research from SCI Solutions, no-shows cost the healthcare industry roughly $150 billion annually or about $200 per missed appointment.

After the appointment, SMS notifications can serve as an unobtrusive follow-up to give patients more information about their treatment plans and lead them to additional resources. If a patient needs to make another appointment, a notification can direct him or her to the easiest way to do so.

With the Swift Development Kit™, an IT professional can easily integrate the API within a provider's current system with little hassle. An SMS system for patient engagement should be quick and painless, and the Swift Development Kit™ makes that a reality.

To learn more about how to integrate SMS notifications into your patient engagement strategy, sign up for a free demo today.