A little SMS goes a long way in healthcare

OpenMarket – June 14, 2018

To improve the patient experience – and healthcare in general – you don’t just need big innovations. You just need a little empathy and some well-timed messages.

The healthcare industry is changing in some big ways. New technologies, new entrants and new regulations are all changing the way healthcare organizations work.

The thing is, talking about these big changes is easy.

But if you really want to improve the patient experience – if you really want to change the way your business works – the opportunities are actually a lot more straightforward.

Here are three smart moves healthcare businesses can make – using SMS.

  1. SMS-based reminders.

In the UK, half of missed doctors’ appointments are simply due to people forgetting them. Yet something so simple costs the National Health Service over $1 billion a year.[1]

A simple text-based reminder service can drastically cut those costs. For instance, a hospital trust in Wales started texting patients ahead of their appointments, giving them the option to confirm, cancel or rebook.

As a result, they saved over $2 million in just two years.[2]

In fact, you can use reminders in a variety of ways – to refill prescriptions, deliver non-critical test results or remind people when they’re due for a check-up.

  1. Motivational messages.

Well-timed messages have been shown to help people quit smoking and take their medication.

A randomized, controlled trial established that motivational text messages actually doubled people’s chances of giving up nicotine.[3]

Similarly, SMS also makes patients with chronic diseases twice as likely to stick to their medication regimen.[4]

It’s an effective way to deliver bite-size education or advice to people who may not be able to get to a doctor otherwise or might need more regular remote support. And it’s currently being trialed in a number of mobile behavioral interventions for the prevention of obesity or type 2 diabetes, for example.

  1. Maintenance alerts

When you automate time-consuming processes based around communications, you free up hospital staff to take care of more important things.

Here’s a big example. Philips enabled their state-of-the-art MRI machines to send automated text alerts to their engineers.

This way, the engineer can intervene and fix any potential faults detected by the scanners before anything goes seriously awry. This proactive alert system prevents unexpected downtime, costly repairs and potentially even saves lives.

And it could just as well be applied to other critical infrastructure.

Improving the patient experience – one message at a time

There are all sorts of big changes coming in the healthcare industry. But if you really want to improve the patient experience, you don’t need to revolutionize your business.

You just need to find the moments where a little bit of empathy – and a well-timed message – can help your patients and your people.

Intrigued? Download our case study and find out how Philips combined the Internet of Things and SMS messaging to deliver a better patient experiences – and how the technology could be applied to other areas of healthcare as well.

(Or you can just get in touch with us directly.)

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jan/02/patients-missing-their-appointments-cost-the-nhs-1bn-last-year

[2] https://www.openmarket.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/OpenMarket-New-Age-of-Customer-Experience-eBook.pdf

[3] https://www.nhs.uk/news/cancer/text-messages-help-smokers-quit/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26831740


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