From Text to Trust: Building Patient Relationships Via Text Messaging

When tragedy struck Sherie Garrison’s family, she used that experience and her own professional background to spark change across her state and says Updox is a huge part of that success.

After Sherie, an OB/GYN nurse with more than 50 years of experience, lost a grandson, she and her husband Brad, a pharmacist and church pastor, made a commitment to tackle infant mortality in the hardest hit areas of Michigan.

The two started their first Luke Project 52 Clinic in Detroit, which had the highest infant mortality rate in the state. The clinic offers prenatal care and then infant care for a year after birth. The clinic currently serves almost 40 patients at any time and services are offered at no cost. They work with women with the highest need – those who may be homeless and without access to care – whether due to lack of insurance, transportation, childcare issues, or other barriers.

“We found that communication was a huge obstacle to getting care. The women we serve don’t like going to clinics. They don’t always trust care providers,” says Sherie. “To get them to come to appointments, we had to build trusting relationships first.”

The two, along with clinic volunteers, rely on Secure and SMS text from Updox to open communication channels. Many times, people in poverty have phones that they may not be able to make or accept phone calls with but can use them to text when they are within an internet service area. “We could not do our work without Updox. It’s the only way we can communicate with most of our patients. We can send texts to ask questions, do check ins, take simple steps to build the relationship to get them to care. Then, we follow up afterwards to see their children, get updates and photos. This is more than just a text tool – it’s become a lifeline,” says Sherie.

“Having trusting relationships with our moms is essential to getting them the prenatal care they need.  Texting isn’t always medically related. It’s a way to show we care, and we’re connected to them. Our moms tell us that these texts make them want to come to their appointments,” says Sherie. “Building those relationships was the missing link to why they weren’t getting care and Updox has played a huge part in solving that for us.” 

She first became familiar with Updox through their Practice Fusion EHR and also uses Updox for HIPAA-Compliant eFax, Patient Reminders and Electronic Forms. “We’re trying to go as paperless as possible to reduce our overhead expenses. The way our Updox solutions work together – where we can copy text threads into nursing notes and file into our EHR is seamless and makes documentation and reporting so much easier for our all-volunteer staff at the Flint location,” she says.

“With Electronic Forms, we can do all our consents online with no paper to print, sign, scan and file. It’s not only time efficient but saves money also.

Because of the efficiency and cost-savings that Updox has shown them, Sherie recommends the solutions to other practices and clinics. “As a non-profit with no paid team, you’ll find you cannot function without Updox. Their products are excellent and user friendly,” she says. “I laugh when I say I’m 70 years old with no computer training and if I can learn Updox, anyone can. Plus, the customer support is very accessible.” 

In September, the Luke Project 52 Clinic opened a second location in Flint. Committed to meeting the needs of this community, Sherie and Brad have plans to target Michigan’s Pontiac and East Detroit areas next.

Learn more about SMS and Secure Text from Updox 

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