1 June 2023
The average mobile phone user checks WhatsApp 23 times per day, and the channel gets over 2 billion active users every month – globally. WhatsApp certainly has the reach and the engagement levels that lend themselves to digital healthcare – particularly for patients aged between 18-44, 84% of whom are WhatsApp users.
Here are some of the top benefits of using WhatsApp Business Platform in the healthcare sector.
- Improved patient trust and relationships
- Reduced appointment no-shows, thanks to more engaging messages
- A near instantaneous connection between hospitals and patients
- Helping with long-term health condition management
- Better staff communication
- Ability to monitor key metrics and continuously improve
- Improved efficiency
1. Improved patient trust and relationships
One of the best things about WhatsApp Business Platform is its ability to offer two-way conversations. Unlike SMS where you’ll need a virtual mobile number (VMN) to have a two-way conversation, this functionality is available to every WhatsApp account. This applies to both user and business-initiated conversations.
This allows you to engage with patients more naturally. You can have conversations, not just provide notifications, which can help you build trust and strengthen relationships.
2. Reduced appointment no-shows, thanks to more engaging messages
Another great thing about WhatsApp Business Platform is its rich feature set. Via this channel, you can send more than plain text messages. Here are some examples of rich features you can take advantage of:
- Documents (e.g. PDFs)
- Call-to-action (CTA) buttons
- Quick reply buttons
These features can help your messages stand out and entice recipients to engage with them. For example, rather than an appointment reminder in plain text format, you can add CTA buttons that prompt patients to confirm their attendance or reschedule. You could also send the location of the hospital/practice and attach documents with ‘what to expect at the appointment’.
All of this helps you provide a more engaging appointment reminder that patients will remember and want to interact with. This can help you reduce the number of missed appointments.
3. A near instantaneous connection between hospitals and patients
As many healthcare providers are still using phone-based appointment systems, this can lead to an influx of calls and patients having to wait in phone queues. This can often leave the patient feeling frustrated, impacting their overall experience.
WhatsApp Business Platform allows patients and healthcare providers to connect instantly with each other. For example, if you integrate your practice’s booking system with WhatsApp Business Platform, patients can use WhatsApp to book or amend appointments, easily being able to see when the earliest availability is.
They can also use WhatsApp to seek medical advice. You can respond to these individually or deploy a chatbot to automate responses to simple, frequently asked questions. And even if you decide to reply individually, you can use pre-configured message templates for faster, more consistent responses.
If healthcare professionals need to get in touch with patients (e.g. a follow-up appointment, test results or even promotional materials), they can use WhatsApp Business Platform to send communications.
Not only does this increase the speed at which a patient receives help/stays informed, but it can reduce visits to healthcare facilities. People visit only when absolutely necessary, which helps to reduce the strain on resources.
4. Helping with long-term health conditions
It’s a major challenge for healthcare providers to ensure that discharged patients manage their conditions effectively. WhatsApp Business Platform can help patients manage their own conditions with scheduled reminders to take medication and be sent data such as heart rate and blood pressure.
Utilising bots, WhatsApp Business Platform can even suggest courses of action based on these medical inputs. This effectively provides an automated telehealth system through a messaging app that the customer is already familiar with.
5. Better staff communication
One of the great features of messaging apps like WhatsApp is that group chats are supported. So, teams can receive the same information and react more quickly – particularly useful for last-minute shift scheduling.
Messages are also two-way, making it easier for staff to quickly relay their availability back to the healthcare provider.
6. Ability to monitor key metrics and continuously improve
WhatsApp Business Platform’s reporting capabilities can help you monitor key metrics. Here are some of the capabilities:
- Read receipts
- The time your recipients viewed the rich content
- CTA button clicks
- Delivery rate
Access to data like the above can help you better understand your patients’ messaging habits (e.g. how quickly do they read your messages). This, combined with insight into send/delivery success rates and open rate, can help you continuously improve message engagement.
7. Improved efficiency
From more engaging appointment reminder messages that allow patients to reschedule themselves to bots that provide automated responses, WhatsApp Business Platform can help improve efficiency for healthcare providers.
Let’s use the bots as an example. For commonly asked questions or information you need to send out frequently (e.g. ‘what to expect at your appointment’ or ‘how to prepare for your appointment’ materials), a chatbot can handle these. This helps to reduce the strain on your healthcare staff, giving them more time to focus on patients with more complex needs.
For instance, if there is an outbreak of the flu or another infectious disease, advice can be sent to all opted-in patients which can be text only, or can include photos/video content or links to online material for further information.
Recipients can reply with questions or request appointments. A chatbot can be deployed to automate responses to popular questions. You can use quick/suggested replies to guide patients to specific questions that the bot can answer.
How can the healthcare sector get the most out of WhatsApp Business Platform?
Modern healthcare is increasingly being delivered remotely via telehealth services. This offers several benefits to both provider and patient, including cost effectiveness, its ability to deliver value in managing long-term conditions, and the fact that it’s easy for patients to access.
Here are some top ways WhatsApp Business Platform is being used in the healthcare sector:
- Appointment reminders
- Appointment management
- Medical advice
- Patient engagement
- Feedback and surveys
Read about these in more depth here.
Want to learn more about the features of WhatsApp Business Platform and how it can help you improve patient experience, appointment attendance rate, efficiency and more? We’re offering a free trial of the platform for our new and existing customers. Read about what you’ll get when you sign up by clicking the button below.