Pregnancy is an exciting time—but it can also be overwhelming. With all the doctor’s appointments to attend, remembering to eat healthy and to avoid risky behaviors, new mother books to read —there’s a lot to keep in mind. And then comes parenthood—vaccination schedules, regular doctor appointments, concerns about what to do during a cough or a fever and growth percentiles… parents have a lot on their plate.
There is much more to this relationship and the type of communications that occur however. For instance, doctor-patient communication during pregnancy is especially delicate because of the frequent and intimate interactions patients have with their doctors – not to mention the prenatal emotions and health behaviors that have significant effects on birth outcomes. This is further complicated by the nature of prenatal care, where patients may see multiple doctors within the same practice, or see one doctor during pregnancy but another during delivery, because doctors and patients may not have as much time to get to know each other. Studies have shown that women perceive they will get better prenatal care from midwives because they associate midwives with better communication, collaboration and empowerment – and often choose to get treatment from a midwife over a doctor, because they feel they will get reassurance and comfort in addition to standard medical care. Since prenatal care shifts into postnatal care and pediatrics, patients are likely to continue seeing the same healthcare provider (or providers) for years to come – so the need to improve doctor-patient communication is paramount in order to ensure quality of care and patient retention.
Contacting Your Doctor
“Hello, doctor?” Before the era of the internet, social media, smart phones…parents often had to call their doctor with their concerns. Does a high fever in the middle of the night, for example, warrant a trip to the emergency room? While these days it might seem as though reaching out to your doctor might not seem necessary—after all, most information is available on the internet–the reality is that it is more important than ever for parents-to-be and current parents to reach out to doctors with their concerns, rather than relying on the internet. In fact, doctors actively wish that their patients would stop turning to the internet for advice. It is simply too easy to assume a certain diagnosis based off of the internet that may not actually be the case.
The Power of Text
But for doctors, the constant contact with patients presents its own sets of challenges. Phone calls take time —and doctors simply do not have time to speak personally over the phone with each and every patient. In the age of smart phones, a solution that holds a lot of promise is text messaging. Text messaging reminders have been shown to increase attendance to medical appointments. Multiple studies have found that texts to pregnant women with educational information, announcements, and appointment reminders are an effective way to improve prenatal and postnatal care. Other text messaging interventions have proven to improve patients’ medical adherence rates. Considering that 99% of text messages are opened and 90% are read within three minutes of receipt, the power of text messaging within healthcare is not surprising.
And yet, text message is limiting for patients and doctors. SMS texting is simply not secure or HIPAA compliant. So while pediatricians and OB/GYNs may be able to send general information or vague reminders to patients, they can’t include any identifiable information in the texts. This is why secure messaging platforms that are HIPAA compliant, like Vaporstream, are so important when it comes to long-term relationships between patients and doctors—like those between parents and OB/GYN and pediatricians. Parents need to be able to contact their doctor quickly while resting assured that their private health information—and that of their child—remains protected. OB/GYNs and pediatricians, in turn, need to be able to communicate with parents without worrying about inadvertently sharing private information or violating HIPAA. Communications technology provides an opportunity for OB/GYNs and pediatricians to provide superior healthcare that sets the stage for healthy and happy life.
To find out more on how Vaporstream can increase your ability to communicate in an automated, HIPAA compliant fashion to empower your patients with information at the right time, contact us now – or ask to see Vaporstream in action.
Contributor: The Vaporstream Team