Mobile communication offers various stakeholders such as hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and Non-government organizations (NGO’s) and government agencies a quick and effective way to reach out to patients and citizens in order to communicate vital information in a timely and direct way. Research shows that patients prefer to be communicated with via their mobile phone. And while they may change their location, they are less likely to change their mobile number. Thus, allowing the mobile to be a consistent mode of communication over a long period of time. Here are just some of the ways that of using mobile communication channels in healthcare:
- Mass Public Awareness – During this COVID-19 crisis, many countries and governments around the world need to spread vital health information such as good hygiene practices and health tips to the public. Mobile communication channels such as SMS, USSD and chatbots can be the most targeted and effective way to reach all citizens.
- Reduce missed appointments – healthcare setups can send a simple SMS to remind their patients of their scheduled appointments. This would drastically reduce “no-shows” which are a financial loss to any setup.
- Prescription reminders – pharmacies can send automated SMS to their customers reminding them that it is time for them to fill their medication prescriptions again before their supply runs out. This greatly improves customer care and patient adherence to medication.
- Keep doctors and staff informed – Alert staff of important meeting reminders, meeting schedule changes etc
- Patient Alerts – Notify patients that their test results are ready to be collected.
- Feedback from patients – Hospitals and clinics can instantly collect valuable feedback from patients by sending out surveys via SMS or chatbots. Data collected can help the healthcare facility identify areas of improvement and advance its patient care and service.
- Roster management – Healthcare clinics can quickly and effectively communicate internally with staff members for shift reminders, shift changes or for filling in a shift.
- Promote health information – SMS can be used to raise awareness of certain diseases such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Non-Government Organization’s – For NGO’s the opportunities of using mobile communication channels are endless. Trekmedics a Beem customer uses SMS to receive vital alerts from field agents about emergency incidents. For general public awareness campaigns such as campaigns to drive Polio vaccination or Tuberculosis diagnosis, SMS can be used as vital tools to communicate with members of the public directly. In Tanzania UNICEF registers births via a Two Way SMS Shortcode to ensure that all children get birth certificates and are tracked. Community based health workers recruited by NGOs can also submit data collection forms from remote locations via USSD.