Communicate how patients want to communicate.
By TJ Janicky, PT, DPT
Technology is progressing, whether we are paying attention or not. The pace of technological acceleration is described by Moore’s Law, which states that overall processing power for computers will double every two years. I recently learned that Moore’s Law has held true, and it is no surprise that “most of us are grossly underestimating how large this culture shift is,” as described by Gary Vaynerchuk, entrepreneur, author, and speaker. Vaynerchuk was the keynote speaker at this year’s American Physical Therapy Association (APTA’s) Private Practice Section conference in Orlando. He touched on many topics such as social media platforms and content, “your practice should be a media company first,” and that most of us are never more than arm’s length away from our cell phones.
And since we are never far from our cell phones, one company has developed an easy and secure way to communicate with patients in the style that many prefer—texting. Vinitial is a secure, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)–compliant texting app for patients and providers, with no need for exchanging cell phone numbers.
I recently learned that most work email is not HIPAA complaint and neither is personal cell phone texting. The company was created by physical therapist Dave Kittle, PT, DPT, with a focus in optimizing communication in the outpatient setting. “Many patients have questions or comments between visits that do not require a phone call and typically would not compel the patient to send an email,” Kittle explains. “When patients hear from their therapist or front desk that the practice uses a secure texting app for communication, traditional barriers preventing questions and communication are then minimized.”
Here are some clinical uses/scenarios I came up with:
- Change in symptoms (increase or decrease)
- This specific home exercise resulted in . . .
- My taping application causes itchiness or a rash.
- I am running late, can I still come in?
- I tried to jog/run and . . .
- Since starting therapy, I am feeling . . .
Your front desk can also be involved with administrative questions such as:
- Can you remind me of my copay or current balance?
- Can you clarify my benefits?
- How many authorized visits do I have?
- Is the office closing early or opening early due to snow?
- I am in a work meeting unable to call; I will have to cancel today.
Vinitial is an easy iOS and Android app download that is free for patients and staff clinicians. Patients then search their therapist’s name and send him or her a text.
Check out Vinitial, LLC, at www.vinitial.com or join the conversation on Twitter @VinitialApp.
TJ Janicky is an Impact editorial board member and outpatient physical therapist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. TJ can be reached at email@example.com and @TJ_Janicky on Twitter.