Secure messages appear to patients like a social media chat. The provider app is often used on a computer, but the patient may be using the Spruce mobile app. This means the patient may read your messages on a small screen.
Short, chat-like communication feels natural in Spruce, but long replies are also supported and can be read by scrolling. A patient using the mobile app should be able to read several sentences or more on their screen without having to scroll, but this depends on their phone settings.
Choosing a Casual Tone
Care coordinators, schedulers, and nurses often take an informal approach to communicating via Spruce. The app gives your conversation an active back-and-forth feeling that means you may not need formalities like greetings and signatures. Because secure messages are only sent and received from within the Spruce app, your patients should know who you are when you write to them. Your chats can be quick, friendly, and to the point, like texting. This tends to create a comfortable environment for patients and prompt better responses.
Choosing a Formal Tone
Doctors often take a more formal approach with patient messages, especially when sharing treatment plans. This can establish a helpful distance between doctor and patient, and patients may be more inclined to be thoughtful of the doctor’s time.
Standard SMS Text Messages
SMS messages are best kept concise. Up to 160 characters will be delivered as one text, while anything longer will be split into multiple texts. Most smartphones will deliver multiple texts in a legible way, but smartphone users are more accustomed to short, conversational messaging.
Although shorter tends to be better, it is still important to be clear. Avoid medical shorthand (e.g., ‘bid’, ‘prn’) and text shorthand (e.g., ‘4’ instead of ‘for’), and write out your message in common language instead. This ensures your patient will have no trouble understanding you.
When your message arrives, the patient is not necessarily inside the Spruce mobile app or even thinking about their healthcare. They’re just receiving a text to their phone. Use their name and identify yourself in the first message to set context (e.g., “Hi Linda – this is Nurse Lee following up on your clinic visit.”).
Avoid using all caps (it’s read as yelling in the digital world).