Study Finds Text Messaging More Effective for Healthcare Surveys than Phone Calls

From collecting patient data to conducting clinical trials, a well-run survey can make a big difference in how efficient and effective your health organization is run. A new study published in PLos One suggests that health surveys conducted over text messages gather higher quality data than surveys conducted over phone calls.

Comparing survey responses from text messages and phone calls

The study, titled Precision and Disclosure in Text and Voice Interviews on Smartphones, was a joint collaboration with several researchers from the New School in New York, The University Of Maryland, the University of Michigan and other institutions. The researchers wanted to find whether people who participated in a survey over text message answered the questions with greater precision and fuller disclosure than they did over a phone call.

Over 600 randomized participants were asked to fill out a survey delivered in one of four ways: automated text messages, manually sent text messages, automated voice calls, and manually placed voice calls. After participants filled out the surveys, researchers gauged the quality of the data by measuring the extent to which responses were both careful and conscientious. For example, researchers measured the extent to which respondents might round up or round down their answers instead of carefully thinking through a question, or by responding with the same answer for multiple questions in a row instead of varying their responses. They also determined how willing people were to disclose sensitive information via text message as opposed to over the phone.

Study participants answered survey questions more conscientiously and honestly over SMS

The study found that not only did people who answered the survey via text messages answer more conscientiously, but that they also answered more honestly. Patients who took the survey over text messaging, for instance, had greater disclosure level of sensitive information – such as their number of sexual partners or the amount of alcohol they drank. Text message respondents also reported a preference for text message surveys, thereby suggesting that text messaging could quite possibly be the best way to collect data from patients.

Why text messaging works better than phone calls for collecting Client responses

Text messaging is the better option than phone calls for conducting health surveys for several reasons. First, since participants can answer survey questions while carrying out their daily routines, it gives participants more freedom to answer questions thoughtfully on their own schedule. Indeed, the ability to answer questions within one’s own time frame grants participants a more relaxed attitude towards the survey in general, meaning that they are less likely to rush through the questions than they would with a telephone conversation.

Second, text messaging lends better results to data collection is because it grants the participant more anonymity than a phone call. People are more likely to be honest when they don’t have hear their own words or address a person on the other end of the phone line. The phenomenon of "satisficing" or giving answers that are perceived to be desired by the person conducting the survey in order to end the call, irregardless of whether it's an honest answer) plagues phone surveys, whereas, clients tend not to do so during text surveys.

Lastly, a text messaging platform like PreventionPays has the ability to store all the data collected in text message surveys, which is an invaluable feature for researchers because it compiles all the answers into a single, organized database. No need to spend time transcribing the survey results from a voice recording or hardcopy survey into a database!

How text messaging surveys can contribute to the healthcare industry

Using text messaging to collect data can be useful in a variety of ways in the healthcare industry. For example, you can use text messaging to:

  • Find and organize participants for a clinical trial: Text messaging can be used to attract and retain potential participants, guide participants through the trial, as well as determine their eligibility based on a short survey.
  • Gather feedback on patient care after their discharge: Text messaging allows you to poll your patients using both multiple choice questions and open-ended questions about their quality of stay at your hospital or clinic.
  • Improve employee satisfaction: Text messaging can be used internally as well as externally, and it could greatly behoove your organization to conduct an SMS survey with your employees that guarantees anonymity and (as this study suggests) encourages full and honest disclosure.

Regardless of the data that you’re collecting, the ability to collect honest and carefully considered answers and compile all the information on a single platform makes it a lot easier to analyze your data and make improvements to your organization. Text messaging is a great way to make your organization run smoother and achieve better results – and it can start today.

Want to activate a survey? Easy! Already a client? Email or call us so we can pick a time to assess your unique needs and deploy a solution! Want more info on how PreventionPays Text can help you? Email "" or text DEMO to 85511

Responding while on-the-go can be as simple as 1, 2, 3!

Responding while on-the-go can be as simple as 1, 2, 3!

citation: University of Michigan, New York New School, U of Maryland Co-Researchers Schober MF, Conrad FG, Antoun C, Ehlen P, Fail S, Hupp AL, et al. (2015) Precision and Disclosure in Text and Voice Interviews on Smartphones. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0128337. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0128337

Phone-to-Text Referrals Done Right!

One of the many ways health and human service agencies use PreventionPays is our simple "phone-to-text" utility.  Also referred to as "phone2text," we offer a very elegant solution that can also be linked to your CRM software. The utility is demonstrated in the video below!

The steps are simple:

1.  Enter the mobile number or mobile number(s) you wish to send the referral(s) to

2.  Paste the content into the text box (one or more referrals) Don't worry, the system will auto-concantenate messages over 160 characters (split and send sequentially)

3.  Select your silent keyword option (this step only has to be done once since the service will default to the last keyword used) The silent keyword ensures your client just gets the content in the text box, thus bypassing the optin message!  The queue will not update as it does when a live request comes through.  The only time a phone2text referral would update is if your client has a question about the content you've texted them.  So, you can create an automated message that says please call us for questions, or if you have live support turned on, you can simply open the case and respond to the question!  Simple!

4. Click the big green "Send" button.

Content will go out! Simple. You will see a report at the top of the page confirming the number was sent the content. You can also view the case in your queue by clicking the Users tab.  You can search for the number, look in your archives or simply archive to reports. Regardless of what you do with the case, the information went out and most importantly, you can confirm so just by looking at the number in your queue.  You will also benefit form a delivery receipt which comes from the carrier (known as "carrier grade delivery notifications") a completely complimentary component of PreventionPays Text! 

Why text referrals to people who call you? 

According to PEW Research, 80% of adults own smart phones and 80% of smart phone owners text more than they make voice calls and email! And for help-seekers, there's a strong preference for the medium. Most people would rather text about sensitive subjects than "talk" about them. 

Information that is texted to smart phones is many times more likely to be used. It's easy to misplace a piece of paper or simply write the information down incorrectly. When it's texted, the information is always correct to the letter. Also, smart phones enable clients to engage with referrals in new and exciting ways.  Links are browsable, addresses are searchable and interactive with your maps app, phone numbers are "callable"!  In sms, the referral becomes much more consumable! Which is the most important part of the work you do. Also, when you text referrals with PreventionPays, you can interact with your data so that archived results are searchable and reportable to your funders/partners and stakeholders.  

Most importantly, Phone-2-Text referrals are producing high return rates! With over 60% return rates for live I&R texting, when you text your caller, they're many more times likely to text you as a first choice medium. Therefore, Phone-2-Text referrals are an on-ramp to live sms help down the road. In the continuum of help, the referral is just the beginning!

How are you texting your referrals? Here are just a few of our very happy clients using PreventionPays Text for all their texting!

We were using the old system (long code) and many of our clients were calling us up and telling us they didn’t get the text. We started using the short code with PreventionPays and everything goes through instantly. It’s so easy. The best part is, no more complaints!
— 211 Atlanta
We had to put in the phone number and the carrier. We thought that was strange. With PreventionPays you just need the mobile number. We really like how easy it is to send texts to callers on 898211!
— United Way of Central Iowa 211
Our system was not giving us positive message tracking and we were not ever certain if our referrals got through, then ultimately we found out that a whole part of our state had been unbound by the mobile carriers…no texts were getting through.
— 211 Indiana
We were using a long code system and were unable to trust any of the information coming into us. We tried to pass along information to our emergency management associates to enable a rescue but they were not able to use the information and said that it was impossible to trace. This created a barrier and damaged our relationships with local authorities. We have since replaced that system with short code texting and repaired those damaged relationships.
— CrisisLink, Virginia
We tested our existing (long code system) next to the short code system and saw in real time that the long code was not sending our referrals while the short code went through every time!
— Contra Costa 211

Are You On PreventionPays Text Yet?! No? Here's What You're Missing!

First a couple stats:

Americans under 55 now text more than they make voice calls and email!

80% of web browsing in the US is occurring on smart phones. 

Gen-Y and Mellennials prefer text over any other communication channel. That means your next generation help-seeker won't be calling you on the phone! Which begs the question... 

R U Text-Enabled?

If your agency doesn't have texting with PreventionPays, here's what you're missing!

  • best practice text I&R, live help via sms (and we have data to support it! Just ask us!)
  • fully-automated referral utility (on one of the largest health and human services platforms in the nation)
  • fully-automated phone-to-text referrals (that enable live help if needed!)
  • health alerts, health education! (make new friends with like-minded orgs that need help engaging their priority pops with text message education)
  • automated end user privacy protection so you never need to worry about spamming your audience... or your neighbor's!
  • staff alerts (with read rates at 98% in first 5 mins, you can't afford NOT TO use sms for important staff alerts about closures or shift changes! Or whatever else!
  • donor texting (want to endear your donors even more? send them regular texts about all the great stuff you do! And then, send them a text with a secure link to your online payment processing service and we guarantee your donor relations will improve and the frequency and dollar amounts of you donations will also increase!)
                                      AIRS members! Get text-enabled today and save!

                                     AIRS members! Get text-enabled today and save!

What's New This Month?

fully-intergrated appointment reminders and/or automated followup texts 

Our appointment reminder tools are in accordance with FCC anti-spamming laws and, suffice it to say, super easy to integrate!

How simple?  

Step 1:  Admins create a library of appointment reminder messages in multiple languages as needed, using a simple template

Step 2:  Admins and/or staff upload an excel/csv/txt file with the following columns: mobile number/appt date & time/language

That's it!

What's the best part about PreventionPays appointment reminders? If someone needs more information all they have to do is respond to the reminder. And if you have live help activated, all you have to do is open the case and text away!  PreventionPays offers a completely unique fusion of tailored group messages with two-way, live help!  Both levels of capacity are supported by the same Tier 1, Enterprise short codes, under the same application! From the masses to the individual in one click!

We also just recently deployed "Ad-Hoc" groups!  Make sure you ask us about this new, super exciting functionality!  

Our clients always take comfort in knowing live, one-on-one help is always just a click away!

Happy Texting!

Ho, ho, ho! Exciting New Features... and More Coming Soon!

Case Manager Settings:

Now admins can set up staff to only see certain cases. This is optional so please discuss with your staff using the system.

So, when staff log in they will just see the cases that are in their caseload.  The case manager setting is separate from the responder setting. So, now, they no longer have to be assigned as responder to be assigned to the case.  

You can start using the queue this way by having staff go through the queue and "assign" themselves as the "case manager".  

They access this by clicking on each case, and then in the middle of the screen in the attributes section, there's another link next to the "assign responder" called "assign manager".  So, they will want to click the "assign manager" link and then select their name in the pull-down menu.   Once they've assigned all their cases to themselves admin can modify their profile settings so they just see their “assigned” cases.  To do so, you remove the check box in “all” under “users tab permissions"  when they log in they only see the cases they are assigned to manage.  If you don’t want to restrict staff to just their assigned cases, don’t change their profile.  They will still have access to “all” cases, but, when they click the sub tab “mine” they will see all cases they are assigned as responder and case manager.

Pass status:  “pass” option/status has been deployed however we have not updated this in the guide yet.  We have a few more deployments that we’re getting ready for and we're waiting to include those and the pass button in the next iteration!

Pass button is as follows:  
Some cases don't need a response. So it gives the option to pass so that it gets recorded that way. Agencies can create protocols around when and when not to use pass instead of opening case and sending a live response. When the case is "passed" the yellow turns off and the status changes to "passed".

So passing on the response versus taking it, opening, responding and then closing.

The other way is one responder has already tried to offer help and then another person's eyes are needed on the case. There could be a specialist who just takes the passes… so if you have a question that needs more support or if there’s a language barrier issue, or if first level response just needs some extra guidance with a case, the case manager setting can help guide these tasks and support your site's custom protocols.

Pass button does not change the functionality of the open and close. You can operate the system without ever using pass. And if you use pass by mistake you can open and close to change back to closed status. 

New Message Notifications

You will now be alerted when new messages enter the queue regardless of whether you're looking at Users tab. The alert appears in the bottom right corner and will update every time a new message arrives. And if you manage more than one queue, you will also receive alerts for the other queues. The alert automatically turns off when you click the X in top corner or click the message inside the alert, or click the Users tab to view the queue.  No more toggling back and forth between queues. We'll let you know when you have to switch locations! 

You can also choose to disable the notifications. Disable is located directly above the queue to the right of the disable buttons for audio alerts.  You disable the alerts the same way as audio, by clicking the check-box to off.

User Guide Version 7 is available for download here:
V 7 covers features up though “case manager” settings

Thank you and as always, Happy Texting!


Three Text Alert Programs, No Opt-outs

Programs in three states have deployed alert projects that focus messaging on very specific issues and/or segments of the population.  During last year's Super Storms, Wisconsin and Oregon created text alerts for shelters:  when they open, how many beds are available, and where to go for assistance in finding an emergency shelter when all standard shelters are overpopulated. Time-sensitive messages that help groups of individuals in precise ways have done tremendously well.  Both projects remain live and will ramp back up as we move towards a new season of storms that experts are already predicting will be bigger than last year.  While these programs occurred 2,000 miles apart in two different states, they share one extremely important statistic - not a person cancelled the messages. In mobile communication terminology, no one "opted out". 

This is great news for any agency looking to capitalize on the sms boom. 2-1-1s exploring partnerships with the state or other health agencies can provide assurances about reach as well as efficacy.  This data clearly demonstrates that group messaging can be just as meaningful to the end user as getting a live one-on-one message from a contact center specialist. We are seeing similar results with other issues. For instance, this past summer the state of Idaho launched a summer lunch program where individuals text a keyword to opt-in for the closest meal.  They are auto-queried for their zip code and then the system sends out the closest meals that are open and available for lunch (some resources offer breakfast and supper too!).  And after the first few months, this project has also enjoyed a zero percent opt-out rate! 

A Florida 2-1-1 is providing a tax assistance program that helps educate citizens about free tax help and how they can maximize their return and avoid falling victim to tax scams and advance return programs that unfairly target the poor.  Additionally, they have partnered with state universities and colleges to help educate high school juniors and seniors about the critical life-choice of "going2college". The program sends tailored content to subscribers that helps them meet application deadlines to their chosen institution as well as FAFSA, the two most critical pieces in the process.  Again, two programs that focus on very specific populations and provide alerts that are highly tailored to each group's unique needs.

Other 2-1-1s have implemented fire alerts within moments of a statewide disaster designation. A California 2-1-1 provides incoming college students with time-sensitive education about the issues of alcohol and campus violence. Texts with facts, tips and resources are sent on the weekends just as students are keying up for a big night of partying. 

These agencies have also shared their protocols with each other in an effort to improve response during disasters and create best practice. Text offers new ways to educate communities about services offered by 2-1-1 and make them lifelong advocates and users of your services. Getting tips about going2college can lead to tips about finding a job, which may lead to an I&R encounter on how to find local public transportation which leads to alerts about parenting and so on and so forth. 

At its core, 2-1-1 is about people helping people.  And 898211 is helping 2-1-1s open their door to a new generation of help-seekers.  At our core, we are about helping nonprofits increase their value to their communities by empowering and enriching the lives of individuals and their families. Text offers many exciting, new ways to make that possible.  

There are many new projects coming online over the next several months! We plan to share about them and the profound impact they will undoubtedly have on their communities.

Need an a text service you can count on? Contact us today!

Or text MYTEXT to 898211 and see how secure, enterprise texting is changing how health and human services engage the public!