By Alexa Lemzy, customer support manager, Textmagic.com.
Mobile communication technology in healthcare has the potential to improve the patient experience greatly. With a 75% increase in usage last year, telehealth has proven itself a valuable tool during the global pandemic, and it’s predicted to continue at a high adoption rate in the future.
This is because it offers many benefits to the patient experience beyond reducing unnecessary in-person contact. It also enables healthcare providers to support patients with more information and better communication between appointments. This is particularly valuable for patients who prefer the convenience of digital communication and self-service options.
It can be difficult for patients to take all the information on board when they are given a complex diagnosis or treatment plan. They may only realize later that they didn’t understand something or instruction they don’t remember.
Following up appointments with a text to summarize the details gives patients a chance to process the information and note any details they missed in-person. A follow-up text is also an excellent opportunity to prompt patients for any questions or concerns they didn’t mention during the appointment.
Mobile communication methods like texting and instant messaging make it simpler to check up on patients during or after treatment. Scheduling an automated text message that follows appointments that patients can reply to with any concerns or new developments.
A text or message lets patients reply at a time that suits them without interrupting their day. While a phone call could put patients on the spot, making them forget details they wanted to discuss, a text gives them time to think of everything they want to include in their reply.
Besides reaching out to patients, it is easier for them to contact you, either directly or through an app or chatbot. Providing these automated response methods lets patients get immediate answers to simple queries such as checking appointment times or medication instructions. Questions they can’t answer can be passed onto a healthcare provider for a more detailed response.
Making it easier for patients to get information on-demand gives them more confidence in procedures and treatment plans. This is vital when you consider that in a 2020 survey by Wolters Kluwer, 43% of patients said they had refused treatment or medication due to a lack of trust in the care they were receiving.
While complex questions and concerns still need an answer from a professional, this is another area where automated responses can improve the patient experience.
These can let patients request additional information about treatment and provide links to helpful resources such as videos that explain a procedure. As a result, patients can address their worries and misunderstandings more autonomously. This is great for those who prefer to seek answers themselves than voice every concern to you directly.
Using mobile communication to enable this self-service can improve these patients’ comfort and confidence, reducing their chance of backing out of an appointment.
No-show appointments are one of the biggest problems healthcare providers face. In the US, 18% of appointments are missed, costing the healthcare industry $150 billion every year, and it’s not just the money. It can be very frustrating for no-show appointments to waste a time slot you could have used to help another patient.
Mobile communication can help tackle this problem. Besides providing reminders via text or an app to keep patients on time, you can also enable patients to cancel or reschedule using the same methods. Enabling hassle-free cancellations and rescheduling means you are more likely to be warned when patients can’t make it, with enough time to fill the vacant appointment slot.
Checking Minor Symptoms
Patients with minor symptoms and ailments don’t always need an in-person appointment. In these situations, a chatbot or interactive app can help guide patients towards over-the-counter medications and treatments they can do at home.
This reduces unnecessary appointments filling your schedule and enables patients to take immediate action to resolve their issues instead of waiting for an appointment just to be given the same advice.
Long-Term Patient Care
Mobile communication can make long-term care more convenient for your patients by providing extra support to help with their treatment and healthcare needs. For example, sending SMS reminders to take medications can be very useful to patients taking multiple prescriptions on different schedules.
Healthcare apps can also provide information that reduces restrictions on patients with long-term illnesses. For example, you could use geolocation to send patients notifications with the location of their nearest clinic. This can reduce the planning needed to make journeys for patients who may need to seek care unexpectedly when traveling.
Provide Better Patient Care Using Mobile Communication
Mobile communication helps physicians get information, advice, and reassurance to patients. It also improves the patient experience by increasing communication and support between appointments with check-up messages and automated self-service options. While these will never replace in-person patient care, they can offer many benefits to your patients when used correctly.