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Dialog Health Makes Telehealth Easier and More Effective by Adding Two-Way Texting

Dialog Health, a two-way texting platform that enables information to be pushed to and pulled from patients, caregivers and healthcare facility staff, announces it is expanding support for organizations interested in leveraging text messaging to expand their telehealth programs.

“Text messaging should be part of any telehealth program,” said Brandon Daniell, president and co-founder of Dialog Health. “It is the most effective way to communicate with a majority of patients and encourage them to take advantage of available telehealth services. The telephone is a ubiquitous telehealth tool at a time when telehealth is fast becoming crucial. A text can turn the mobile phone into a powerful telehealth tool.”

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As a result of social distancing and rules limiting face-to-face interactions during the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has taken on greater importance in the delivery of care. Furthermore, some federal privacy regulations have been relaxed and payment policies broadened to encourage increasing access to telehealth services. Healthcare providers nationwide can now deliver a range of billable services via telehealth, including the Medicare annual wellness visit, virtual home health visits, post-discharge follow-up appointments, and initial patient assessments.

“But as practices and other facility types are finding, there are technical, accessibility and engagement challenges that often accompany the launching of telehealth services,” Daniell says. “To address these challenges, organizations can turn to text messaging.”

Texting is advantageous for numerous reasons. Two way-texting platforms are SaaS products only requiring internet access, so facilities do not need to invest and set up new hardware. Nearly all consumers own mobile phones. Most mobile phones can access the internet and include a camera, and all can receive text messages. There is little to no learning curve for patients as most know how to text, and most have used videotelephony programs (FaceTime, Skype, Facebook Messenger). There is no need for someone to have wi-fi, a computer, speakers, or be at home to access telehealth services through their mobile phone.

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Organizations can send text messages that include hyperlinks to initiate telehealth consultations (see Image #1). A texting system like Dialog Health informs a provider when a patient receives the text. Once the link is selected, a web browser or app will automatically open and the camera on the phone should activate.

As demand for telehealth services has surged, Dialog Health has received numerous requests from organizations interested in pairing text messaging with telehealth programs. To meet these needs, Dialog Health has expanded its customer service and support team to assist with setup, messaging and inserting links.

One such organization that has partnered with Dialog Health to strengthen its telehealth program is Medalliance Medical Health Services, a federally qualified health center in Bronx, N.Y. “Dialog Health has helped us stay connected with our patients and keep them informed during this critical time,” says David Alejandro, marketing and community relations director. “We send daily links via text that direct patients to our telehealth platform. Patients can then receive follow-up care and answers to their pressing questions in real time. The ability to text with patients has made delivering care much easier.”

“Facilities are looking for ways to help ensure high quality of care during these challenging times,” Daniell says. “Telehealth and texting are solutions that organizations should strongly consider.”

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