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How digital communication is enhancing the patient journey

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With healthcare providers globally turning to digitalisations during the pandemic, Nikhil Shoorji, managing director Europe, Infobip, discusses why they now need to take their new-found adoption of automation further and become digital pioneers

 

As we navigate a radically different way of living, the need to stay connected and informed while socially distanced has been paramount. This is why renewed focus has been placed on digitalisation in the healthcare sector, with government-funded schemes like NHS Test and Trace representing a widescale investment in instant, data-driven and personalised digital communication.

Against the backdrop of the pandemic, keeping patients and the public informed about COVID-19, and identifying where new cases develop, has helped stop the spread of the virus. But the usefulness of digital communication tools in healthcare reaches further. Tools have helped ensure prescriptions can be delivered to people’s doorsteps, enabled people to book emergency appointments and have reduced the demand on call centers by offering additional, automated channels where people can find the information they need. 

Using chatbots to combat misinformation

The value of quick information from a trusted source cannot be underestimated. Since the beginning of the pandemic, people have constantly searched for updates on COVID-19, but many have found the internet and social media flooded with myths and misinformation. For several governments and health organisations, the answer in getting reliable information to the public quickly, has been implementing chatbots over W

hatsApp. 

These chatbots, built by Infobip and WhatsApp, are easily accessible over a publicly available number. Contact is initiated by the user through entering a number in their contact list and sending “Hi”. This starts a dialogue with the WhatsApp chatbot, where users can choose from a list of topics depending on the information they are looking for. This includes the latest guidelines, case numbers, testing site locations and FAQs. Chatbots operate 24/7, so information is instantaneous. What’s more, WhatsApp only gives green badges to verified senders, so users can rest assured that the information is valid and safe. 

Chatbots like this have been used across the globe – from the UK to India – in order to keep the public informed.

The rise of the virtual waiting room

When in-person contact is vastly reduced, digitalisation has enabled doctors and nurses to connect and communicate with patients remotely, without sacrificing a positive and easy patient experience. Spending time trying to call your GP, filling in lengthy forms with a pen and paper, or even sitting in a crowded waiting room ahead of your appointment, is no longer the laborious but unavoidable part of the patient journey. Healthcare can and should be as efficient as other industries, with the right technology in place. 

This is why PatientComms, the UK’s leading online automated patient communications provider, launched a Virtual Waiting Room solution for mobile patient messaging. By leveraging seamless integration with patient and practice management systems, this digital portal lets practitioners create and send health-related messages, reminders, recalls and alerts to patients, and collect post treatment feedback.

Streamlined services like this help solve bottleneck challenges and reduce administration. For example, in a dentist’s office, medical histories can be automatically presented to the dentist when the patient registers online. This information is then immediately available when the patient arrives in surgery, and time isn’t wasted sorting through paper records.

Out-of-hospital healthcare

During the pandemic, out-of-hospital healthcare has been more important than ever. From a nurse visiting a patient to administer chemotherapy to vital medication being delivered to people in their homes. Digital communication tools help keep patients reassured and informed, while healthcare professionals can rely on them to quickly interact with their peers and patients at a time where in person engagement is still challenging.

Like many integrated enterprises, Healthcare at Home, the UK’s leading provider of out-of-hospital care, had to quickly reposition its communications strategy to keep up with the pace of change over the last year. The company works with over 3.2 million patient contacts each year to provide clinical care in the home and, in tandem with the unprecedented pressure on the NHS, faced a significant increase in demand for its at-home services.

The company turned to Infobip as a technology partner to help advance its SMS and TTS (text to speech) communications to keep patients and employees connected. This includes automated treatment/ appointment reminders, medicine delivery notifications, home medicine stock checks, patient feedback surveys, automated aftercare communications, social media customer service and employee wellbeing communications. 

For Healthcare at Home, embracing two-way digital messaging flows has enabled it to continue its brilliant work remotely, and ensure both patients and staff have the tools they need to communicate. 

Are digital tools here to stay in healthcare?

Although the pandemic has forced digitalisation out of necessity, it has marked a watershed moment for healthcare providers; embracing automation brings bonuses in terms of shortened wait times, reduced administration and streamlined communications. All of which makes theirs and their customers’ lives easier. Healthcare providers must become digital pioneers. 

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  1. Pingback: The opportunities and challenges of navigating Europe’s new regulatory environment - Health Tech World

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