Text Messaging Beats Out Email, Apps for Coordinating Vaccine and Other Appointments
// By Althea Fung //
Within the first three months of 2021, Chicago’s Cook County Health scheduled one million COVID-19 vaccination appointments, using text messaging at scale.
With the rush to get Americans vaccinated, organizations struggled to find the best way to contact patients to coordinate vaccine appointments, especially when demand exceeded supply. Adnan Iqbal, CEO of Luma Health, a San Francisco-based patient engagement platform, found many clients wanted to use the platform to get patients signed up at the appropriate time. Iqbal founded Luma Health with his partner and college roommate Tashfeen Ekram, MD, a diagnostic radiologist.
“At the time of the vaccine rollout, [healthcare organizations] were dealing with a lot of ambiguity — what vaccine would show up, how much would they be getting, etc. They knew they had a whole community of people waiting, especially those high-risk patients,” Iqbal says.
“Our federally qualified health centers and community health partners were the first to raise their hands because they were some of the first to get the vaccine and had limited technology infrastructure. They wanted to use the messaging platform at scale to coordinate this patient journey.”
For six years, Luma Health has worked with doctors’ offices, community health organizations, and large health systems to provide an automated, text-based patient access system. The platform allows organizations to schedule patient appointments, send reminders, complete the intake process, connect patients to virtual visits, and provide updates to patients without picking up a phone or downloading an app.
“Patients are waiting weeks or months for care in the outpatient setting. The same clinics, hospitals, or health systems are sitting at 30 to 50 percent unused capacity on any given day with no easy way to connect those patients to care. That’s where we began, an easy, automated, text-based way to connect patients to care that doesn’t require an app, download, or login,” he says.
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