Harnessing SMS in healthcare.

Keep your patients and staff informed about appointments, test results, and more — all with the simplicity of SMS.

This article has been written by Amanda Ranville Amanda Ranville wrote in industries February 8, 2024
Image for Harnessing SMS in healthcare.

Healthcare practices are busy places. Patients are coming and going. Admins are endlessly answering phones, making appointments, and settling bills. Staff schedules are being planned, and shifts are being changed.  

With all this going on, finding an easy way to communicate with patients and staff about appointments, practice updates, or shift changes can make all the difference.  

And it’s why leading healthcare practices choose SMS as a preferred way to communicate. Patients prefer it, too, with four in five people wanting to interact with healthcare providers via their smartphones.

What is SMS for healthcare?

Everyone who owns a phone knows about SMS. But what some people don’t know is that texting has become a critical component of communication strategies — not just in healthcare, but across all industries.   

With its relatively infallible ability to get important messages from A to B quickly and easily, SMS is proving invaluable in healthcare practices like dentists, doctors, physiotherapy clinics, optometrists, and more.  

In practices like these, admin staff need reliable ways to communicate with both patients and practitioners. And SMS delivers. From appointment reminders to vaccination reminders, from shift scheduling updates to staff alerts, you can use SMS to get important messages out to patients and staff — in the moments that matter.

Why prescribe SMS for healthcare?

Your patients may come from all walks of life, but they have one thing in common. They all own a phone (well, 97% of americans do). And they check them constantly — which means SMS is a guaranteed way of getting your messages across. 

With a wide range of applications across healthcare services, SMS helps keep everyone informed. By using text messages in your healthcare practice, you can: 

Get messages out fast.

95% of text messages are sent within two seconds, giving you the confidence that important messages will be received in an instant.  

If there’s a last-minute change to an appointment because a doctor’s running late, you can ping the patient before they arrive so they don’t get frustrated sitting in the waiting room. Or, if all staff need an urgent update about a new policy, you can send out an SMS with links to the required information — and know that it will be seen.

Reduce no-shows.

Missed appointments can cost thousands of dollars each year. They can also be a source of distress for patients who may have simply forgotten about an appointment that was booked a while back, yet now need to wait weeks before they can get in again. 

Sending appointment reminders is a foolproof way to reduce no-shows and help patients keep track of upcoming appointments. Add in the extra step of a confirmation request for even better outcomes.

Reach busy practitioners.

With healthcare practitioners racing between appointments and, often, between locations, you need a tried and tested way to get important information out to them.  

The phone — and, indeed, SMS — is like the modern-day pager. But instead of having to invest in a complicated paging system and all the gear that comes with it, you simply use the phones your staff already have.

Boost patient data security.

Healthcare practices are often home to sensitive medical records, and in some cases personal information like medication alerts or test results may need to be sent out to patients 

Use two-factor authentication (2FA) behind the scenes with your text messaging platform to protect valuable patient and clinic data.  

This ensures that only certain people can access the platform when sending SMS, which in turn helps build trust with the people you’re caring for.

Free up your admin team’s time.

Using an SMS platform for text messaging, you can set up a whole range of automated workflows — the platform does all the hard work for you. Not only does this free up your team’s time (as they don’t have to ring up patients with reminders and updates), but it also helps ensure no-one gets missed.

It also saves HR time on staff scheduling. One aged care facility saved around 20% in agency fees by using SMS to fill vacant shifts, with staff spending less time phoning around trying to find people to fill shifts.

Want to try SMS for healthcare services?

Image for Want to try SMS for healthcare services?

Top tips for using SMS in healthcare settings.

The diagnosis is clear. SMS is good for healthcare practices. Not just good — it’s a healthy winner. Question is, how can you start reaping its benefits in your own practice? 

Keep the following tips in mind when getting started with SMS in your healthcare practice.

1. Understand the HIPAA rules.

Like other electronic forms of communication, SMS is bound by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This states that a patient’s protected health information (PHI) must stay protected by healthcare providers who use SMS. 

If HIPAA compliance is not followed, you could face up to $50,000 USD in fines.

Ideally, your platform needs the ability to encrypt messages between your practice and your patients, both in transit and at rest. Don’t worry, Sinch MessageMedia has you covered here.

If you’re sending text messages that don’t contain PHI — for example, if it’s an appointment reminder — then the HIPAA rules won’t apply.

Learn more about the HIPAA rules for sending SMS to patients.

2. Follow the TCPA rules.

Yep, more rules. But this is a good thing, right, as it helps build trust between you and your patients. If you’re sending SMS out to patients (who are essentially your customers), you need to adhere to Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) regulations, which state that you must: 

  • Display clear calls-to-action
  • Get consent in writing
  • Send opt-in confirmation messages
  • Acknowledge and honor opt-out requests

If you don’t follow the rules, your messages could be flagged as spam, potentially leading to costly audits or suspension of your messaging campaigns. 

Learn more about how to play by the rules.

3. Build patient trust with personalization.

A great feature of SMS is the easy ability to personalize each text message you send. You can include the patient’s name, their specific appointment details, and other information to reassure them that the message is intended only for them.

To build even stronger relationships, you can also set up two-way texting. This means patients (and staff) can respond to texts — which is great for appointment confirmations, or staff indicating if they can fill a shift.

Text templates to help you hit the ground running.

Use these ready-to-go templates as a starting point, and adapt them to suit the needs of your business.

Appointment reminder.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], you have an upcoming appointment with [Business] on [Date] at [Time]. If you need to reschedule, please call the clinic. Take care and see you soon. 

Check-up reminder.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], it’s time for your regular check-up with [Doctor name]. Book an appointment here: [Link] Reply STOP to opt out. 

Feedback request.

TEMPLATE: Thanks for choosing [Business name] for your treatment. We’d love your feedback to help us improve our services. Please take a moment to complete this short survey [Link] We appreciate your time. Reply STOP to opt out. 

Flu vaccination campaign.

TEMPLATE: Stay protected this flu season and schedule your flu shot today [Link]. Reply STOP to opt out. 

Appointment confirmation.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], you are booked in with [Name] tomorrow at [Time]. Please fill out our New Client form: [URL]. Please call if you have questions or need to reschedule.


EXAMPLE: You’re invited to the [Business] Community Health Fair on [Date] at [Location]. Join us for free health screenings, expert talks, and wellness activities. Get more info: [URL] Reply STOP to opt out.

Test results.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], your test results are in. Log in to your patient portal at [Link] to view your results securely. If you have any questions, please reach out to our team on [Phone number]. Reply STOP to opt out. 

Urgent notification.

TEMPLATE: URGENT: We have an important update regarding your recent treatment. Please call the clinic at your earliest convenience to discuss. Your wellbeing is our top priority. Reply STOP to opt out.


TEMPLATE: Tap the link to view the ePrescription for [Patient name]: [URL].

We’ve got even more SMS templates for healthcare services over in our Resources Hub.

Get started with SMS for your healthcare practice.

Start a free a trial today, and see how easy it is to get important information out to patients and staff.


SMS can be used for appointment reminders, medication reminders, test result notifications, patient education, time-sensitive alerts, surveys, and general communication between healthcare providers and patients.
SMS is a direct and convenient communication channel that enables real-time interaction with patients, improves appointment attendance, enhances patient engagement and satisfaction, reduces missed appointments, and helps you get important healthcare information out to the people who need it.
To ensure the privacy and security of our customers and their information, Sinch MessageMedia uses a layered approach including multifactor authentication, encryption at rest and in transit, and need-to-know and granular access controls. This ensures your patient data is protected and only accessible to those with a requirement to do so in delivery of their services.
Absolutely. SMS is an effective and cost-efficient way to remind patients of upcoming appointments, reducing no-show rates and improving overall scheduling efficiency. Read our guide to SMS appointment reminders.
You can add consent forms or checkboxes into the patient registration process, providing clear information about the purpose and frequency of SMS communication, and offering opt-in/opt-out options for patients to manage their preferences.
To avoid sending spam, you must:
  1. Have consent from the person receiving your messages.
  2. Identify yourself as the sender by including your name or business.
  3. Make it easy to unsubscribe – every commercial message must contain an unsubscribe option.

  4. *This is general information only, not legal advice. You should obtain your own legal advice about anti-spam laws.
Personalisation is key. You can use your company name to send from, and make sure your messages are as personalized as possible, by including the customer’s name, appointment details and so on. Also be sure not to ask for sensitive information via text message.
Yes, you can integrate Sinch MessageMedia with the platform you’re already using. Our implementation team is there to help at every step of the way. Visit our Integrations Marketplace.
You can, although this may have some limitations. Instead, we recommend choosing a new dedicated number that enables two-way messaging and other features.
Absolutely. By using a dedicated number, you can have two-way conversations with patients, directly from your Sinch MessageMedia inbox. Many of our integrations also support two-way messaging inside the connected ecosystem.

Ready to roll?

Image for Ready to roll?