Finding new ways to engage members and incite action has always been a challenge in healthcare. How do you communicate with your members in the most effective, yet compliant way to yield the best results?

The key is to communicate through channels your members use the most. For many right now that means text messaging, as the number of tech savvy Americans that prefer to be communicated via text actually surpasses the number of Americans that don’t.

In fact, it’s been reported that texting has dethroned email as the preferred communication method across most generations. And yet misconceptions surrounding the use of text messaging have been a significant barrier for many healthcare organizations.

The good news is that texting is an approved method of member communication for many forms of health engagement. In 2015 the FCC released certain exemptions for healthcare organizations that clarify how you can communicate with members. It’s time to debunk the misconceptions around texting so you feel confident using it to drive health engagement.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Exemptions for Healthcare

In 2015 the FCC revised the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), adding exemptions specifically tailored to healthcare organizations. These exemptions described text messaging as a permissible form of communication with prior expressed consent, except for financial messages. If a member has provided a telephone number to you—a healthcare organization—you can contact them via text on their mobile phone, regardless of whether there is a marketing purpose to the communication.

A few examples of appropriate messages include:

  • Exam confirmations
  • Appointment reminders
  • Healthcare education
  • Information about health assessments, such as cancer screenings or wellness visits
  • Lab results

It’s important to understand all of the TCPA healthcare exemptions. For example, text messages related to accounting, billing, or other financial content are not part of this exemption. We recommend reviewing all of the clarifications and partnering with a trusted health engagement communications platform with TCPA compliance expertise to ensure compliance.

Texting as a Health Engagement Tool

Texting your members is a huge opportunity to reach more people and drive stronger health engagement. Many studies support this point, including a recent one that found text messages have a 98% open rate and a 45% response rate. Compared to email with open rates that often fall below 20%, engaging your members via text is an opportunity you don’t want to dismiss. In fact, the best reason to start texting your members has to do with the strength of the communication channel itself.

Simply put, text messaging is proven to be the channel in which people across all generations are most likely to see your message and take action.

Whether someone is a Millennial or a member of an older generation, people want to communicate via text when it comes to healthcare. It may go without saying that Millennials—digital natives by birth—prefer texting as their primary form of communication. But what about the preferences of Baby Boomers?

A recent survey conducted by AARP reports that 70% of adults over 50 have a smartphone. Not only that, but 9 out of 10 of these adults use their smartphone to send and read text messages. The same survey noted that older generations have more confidence in healthcare organizations when it comes to texting, versus social media sites and membership organizations. The point is that many Baby Boomers do text, they respond well to inbound text messages, and they trust healthcare organizations to do it right.

At the end of the day, texting may be the best modern member engagement tool for healthcare providers to drive stronger, more effective health engagement. It’s widely used across generations, proven to yield exceptional results, and permissible for most messages. You may need to re-examine the rules regarding the use of text messaging and explore the possibilities of the most universally accepted health engagement tool available.