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Updated 11 hours ago
Excela Health will begin offering same-day appointments via text message starting March 6, the Greensburg-based health system announced Monday.
Patients will be able to send a text to a five-digit number and receive an automated response with a link to a page where they can enter their information to schedule an appointment, spokeswoman Jennifer Miele said.
The health system already offers same-day appointments for people with acute health needs, and patients can still call to schedule those appointments. The texting option expands on a successful program for women to schedule mammograms by text introduced more than a year ago, Miele said. About 1,000 women have scheduled the screenings by text over the last six months, she said.
“We decided, why wouldn't we offer this to every patient who wants to make a doctor's appointment?” she said.
The hospital protects patients' information by having them enter it on a secure site, rather than texting personal information, Miele said.
Excela's announcement comes as more hospitals compete for customers by trying to make health care more convenient. Local systems including Excela have attempted in recent years to make it easier to see doctors more quickly through scheduling changes and expanded evening and weekend hours.
Allegheny Health Network announced last month that it would offer same-day doctor visits for people who call before 11 a.m. AHN spokeswoman Stephanie Waite said in an email that patients can email for the same-day visits, and the system expects to introduce text capability this summer.
UPMC has a smartphone app that lets people with non-life-threatening conditions schedule virtual appointments with doctors, spokeswoman Susan Manko said in an email.
The system doesn't guarantee or advertise same-day visits, but Manko said it aims to connect patients with needed treatment as quickly as possible.
Miele said Excela expanded its call center staff to support the text capabilities. An advertising campaign is planned to promote the new service, she said.
Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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