SMS in the healthcare industryTopic: Guides
Why SMS is so powerful
Whether for a care home, a private hospital, a veterinary clinic, a dentists practice or any other healthcare facility, the need to communicate with staff and patients is of paramount importance. With mobile devices reaching of over 22m people in Australia [Source: Opera, July 2012] the use of SMS as that communication channel is difficult to argue against. There are so many reasons to choose SMS as your communication channel, and here are just a few!
SMS messaging is not only a more personal form of communication, but also has the highest open rate for messaging out there – with 98% of SMS messages being opened – it’s huge when compared to email that has just a 22% open rate (Frost & Sullivan 2010). Setting up an SMS service with Esendex is quick and easy and messages cost just a few cents each.
If your message is time critical there are very few communication channels that can compete with the humble SMS. On average it takes just 90 seconds to respond to an SMS compared to 90 minutes for an email (CTIA). You can also include a web page link, click-to-call phone number or, if you have a 2-way service, have a reply message sent directly to your inbox.
There is no complicated setup process involved with our SMS service, therefore you, or any member of your team, can start sending SMS messages instantly. There is also no requirement for someone to design and code your message, making it easier still to send out SMS when compared to email.
The target audience doesn’t need to have Internet connection, be watching TV, reading the paper or even be available to talk. The message will reach patients or staff wherever they are, so long as they have a phone signal, at a time convenient for them.
Why SMS is great for the healthcare industry
Planning & organising staff shifts
Organising cover for shifts can become very time consuming, especially if the practice is large and there is are many staff members on the books. Having nursing or administration staff calling up all the other nurses on the roster to fill shifts or organise external cover is an expensive use of trained staff’s time.Using SMS is a perfect way to communicate with all staff members on roster at once and can cut a job that would usually take hours, down to one that takes just minutes. Also, by using two-way communication, you can receive confirmation from staff members that are able to cover the shift. Not only does this speed up the whole process, but it also increases the probability that a shift can be covered internally.
An appointment made a few days or weeks in advance can often slip one’s mind, especially when the details are not written down or easily accessible. Missed appointments mean wasted opportunities to see other patients, resulting in an increase in costs and longer waiting times. It is also likely that the appointment will have to be rescheduled.Sending out SMS can help remind people about an appointment they have. This simple, inexpensive and time saving communication method can be the difference between someone showing up for their appointment or not.
For some facilities a courtesy follow up call is often needed, perhaps to make sure there are no issues with a patient after their appointment or stay, or to give them important information. When you are running a large facility, with many patients coming in and out, this is not a quick job.When a follow up call isn’t feasible or suitable, an SMS can be sent to give out-patients the information they require. What is also handy is that because an SMS can be stored, added to a calendar or forwarded on without much effort, it is a more practical solution than being told over the phone. A two-way service can also be used to allow the outpatient to respond to the SMS.
Training days, meetings, company get-togethers or any other type of event can be difficult to arrange, with particular difficulties going to communicating the dates and times to all staff and ensuring that they all attend. In many occasions this information is communicated through word of mouth or by email, which can often become lost in a busy email inbox.Sending out a bulk SMS messages with details of such meetings will give each expected attendee recorded details of the information they need. Follow this up with a scheduled reminder the day before to improve attendance.
How our customers in the healthcare industry use SMS
Over the years we have worked with many organisations within the healthcare industry. We understand that communicating information on patient health is of the upmost importance, which is why our direct network connections, fault tolerant platform and one-to-one support are key in providing you with a service you can rely on. Here are case studies from two of our customers within the healthcare industry.
Bupa Care Services
Bupa is one of the largest care facilities we work with, with over 60 sites across Australia. One such site is the Berwick site, which is a small to medium sized aged care facility that employs around 125 staff. They use the Esendex SMS service for filling available shifts, organising staff meetings, sending out motivational messages and for other general communication purposes.The admin staff have benefited greatly from the introduction of SMS services, saying that they have saved numerous hours per day. They were also able to completely stop using agency nurses as they could now meet their staffing requirements internally. Shifts were also being filled by staff who they would not usually have called but did contact via SMS because it’s easier and feels less intrusive.A unique use, was to use SMS to send out motivational messages to their staff to encourage them to continue their good work.
“Using SMS has saved our staff time and effort which enables them to focus more time on caring for our residents.”
Como Hospital (Healthscope)
Como private hospital is an accredited medical, surgical and rehabilitation facility that boasts 90 beds and employs over 300 staff members. The hospital has a casual nurse bank of around 30 – 40 nurses. Como private hospital use the Esendex SMS service to organise shift changes, confirmations and outpatient follow ups.Managers no longer have to spend numerous hours calling staff regarding shift changes which are caused due to surgery schedules changing, as the use of SMS has significantly cut down the time needed to handle this task. The patient liaison officers have also greatly benefitted from SMS and no longer have to call all outpatients that were discharged to make sure there were no issues and if there are issues, to advise them to see a GP. The Executive Assistant to the Director of Nursing has also been able to save numerous hours per day by using SMS to fill available shifts, advise doctors regarding registrations, set up meeting reminders and for general communications.
“Using Esendex has led to a crucial time saving initiative thus reducing the phone in hours previously needed when calling staff for shift changes. We have also introduced Esendex into many other areas including Catering, Administration & Patient Liaison departments.”