Put patients first in how you communicate

Increase access and connect through people’s preferred channels.

A patient’s access to healthcare can be hindered by their location and mobility, medical literacy, finances, and technical abilities. But for all patients, access depends on communication — being able to ask questions, schedule visits, speak to clinicians, and find out results. 


There’s no single answer to how to communicate better with patients. Here are a few ways that providers can help both their patients and their practice through personalized, trusted communications.


The power of omnichannel communication

Create the experience of personalized care and service by honoring preferences for how people are contacted and with what frequency. A seamless switch between phone call, text, video, webchat, and email keeps the context intact and spares patients from repeating information.

Reaching people reliably

In an era when few people answer calls from numbers they don’t recognize, text is the most immediate and effective way to reach people. SMS regulation has prevented it from being overrun with spam. 


However, legacy systems can have a hard time sorting out not only people’s contact history and preferences, but also details like whether a particular phone number can receive texts. Modern APIs improve message deliverability by making sure that text messages are sent to mobile phones and people with landlines get phone calls.

Patient self-service

A robust two-way SMS scheduling system empowers patients to confirm, cancel, and reschedule appointments at their convenience without sitting on hold, and it gives office staff more time to complete other work. Patients can fill out intake forms ahead of time and check in from their phones on arrival.

Virtual care

Telehealth lets patients meet with providers how and when they want, regardless of distance or time of day. Younger consumers are particularly likely to choose a provider based on their telehealth capabilities, and older patients with less mobility or who live far from healthcare have found it to be a lifeline.

Patient outreach

Automating reminders for appointments and follow-up visits saves time and frustration for patients and staff, as well as helping to keep important preventive care and screenings on track.


Patient education on their chosen platform can increase understanding and compliance. Providers can share vetted, frequently updated information and resources digitally in place of paper pamphlets.

US HIPAA-compliant security and privacy by design

In US healthcare-related fields, any communications dealing with protected health information (PHI) must meet the HIPAA Privacy Rule requirements. Establishing patient trust is essential to access, because 30% of patients say they would be more likely to use digital technology to manage their health if they had more confidence in data security and privacy.


Bringing best-in-class patient communication to healthcare

WELL Health found a way for patients to communicate with their hospital, doctors, pharmacies, and any other organization crucial to their care while using the channel of their choice. Employing a combination of SMS, IVR, email, and chat through the Twilio platform, WELL Health customers benefited from streamlined, two-way customizable communication, improving both clinical outcomes and patients’ relationships with their providers. As a result of this effort, more than 200,000 providers now use the platform, with an average of 1.1 billion messages sent to 37 million patients annually. Additionally, more than 100 use cases have found support through the WELL Health journey.
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Increasing vaccination through simple, thoughtful technology

In Philadelphia in early 2021, the Vaccine Collaborative ran an initiative to increase vaccine equity. It was a joint effort among academic health system Penn Medicine, community teaching hospital Mercy Catholic Medical Center, and Black community leaders, which sought to put no- or low-tech-enabled clinics in the heart of Black communities. Instead of filling out lengthy web forms, individuals were able to make appointments by calling or sending a text to trigger an automated voice system that collected the necessary information. Wait times for the shot were less than one minute for each person, and each clinic saw hundreds of people per day. These clinics represented a successful case study for the use of inclusive planning, multiple channels of engagement, and simplified technology like Twilio’s cloud-based Programmable Messaging and Programmable Voice.
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Automating scheduling for improved access

St Luke’s University Health Network created an automated scheduling and reminder system that lets patients self-schedule vaccine appointments over the phone and receive reminders in the channel of their choice. In only two weeks, St. Luke’s set up the “Shot-Line,” which uses Twilio’s Programmable Messaging and Programmable Voice to create an automated messaging system. The combination of voice and text allows flexibility to improve consistency and efficiency of communications, regardless of preference or technological access. The automation took the system from abandoning 5,000 calls per day to having the capacity to reach 60,000 people per day, dramatically increasing vaccination rates without significant impact on staff workloads.
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