At CareMessage, we rely on mobile technology to reach underserved populations and ultimately lead them to live healthier lives. As smartphones continue to become more easily accessible for this population, we are able to communicate directly with even more patients, ensuring that we are reaching as many people as possible.
To understand how our patients are using their phones, we surveyed almost 400 patients at six Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and free clinics. The survey was offered in English and Spanish; 66% of patients used the English version, while 34% used the Spanish version.
Based on the survey results, we found that smartphone use in underserved populations grew rapidly over the past few years. Of the patients surveyed, 91% reported having a smartphone, as compared to our 2014 version of the survey where 67% reported having a smartphone. This statistic means that, in addition to text and voice messages, mobile apps, such as our newCareMessage Mobile App, are an effective method for reaching underserved patients to communicate in-depth information.
Even with the rise of smartphones, most patients (47%) are using their phones primarily for text messaging. Thus, text messaging is still the optimal method for sending appointment reminders, health education information, and communicating directly with patients.
We also found that patients in underserved populations tend to keep their phone number for a significant amount of time. 57% of patients reported having had their phone number for more than 2 years. This means that a patient’s cell phone number is a reliable, long-lasting way to communicate directly with them.
Additionally, we found that most of our target population has unlimited texting and data plans. 81% of surveyed patients reported having an unlimited texting plan, while 67% reported having an unlimited data plan. When most patients paid per text message they receive, we tried to limit how many texts we send to help minimize financial burden. However, this caused us to restrict the information we sent, potentially causing important information to be removed. With the rise of unlimited texting plans among underserved populations, we can send more information without worrying about causing financial strain on patients.
In addition to optimizing how to reach underserved populations, CareMessage also works closely with customers to help understand the needs of their patients, develop best practices for communication, and design campaigns to increase patient engagement. To learn more about our survey results or to bring these best practices to your organization, use the form below to connect with the CareMessage team.