The health sector includes clinics, hospitals, wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, therapists, and anyone who offers health care services. For the health sector, the patient is the customer who not only brings in revenue but needs to be treated to solve his/her health problems. Communication with patients is a key activity for health care professionals. While there are different ways of communicating with customers, SMS marketing has become a very popular method thanks to the multiple benefits that it offers.
Why SMS for health care?
Patient communication needs to be fast and the messages sent quickly accessible. SMS is one of the best ways of doing this. An SMS can be sent over the mobile phone and reaches the recipient instantly. It does not need internet connectivity and can be used by people across the country, even by those in rural areas where internet connectivity is poor. An SMS can be sent even to regular phones and a smartphone is not needed. Studies show some interesting facts, which explains why text marketing is used in the health care sector to communicate with patients:
1) 97% of all recipients are likely to open a text message, making it ideal for communicating.
2) People check their mobile phones multiple times during a day, making an SMS ideal to send messages.
3) The response rate to SMS is higher than emails and other modes of communication.
4) Patients prefer getting SMS as they can be seen immediately even when they are at work or doing something. It is a non-intrusive communication method that customers prefer over phone calls.
SMS in health care
An SMS can be used to communicate with customers on a range of issues. Some of the ways in which SMS is used in health care include:
1) Reaching out to customers
Mass Text Messaging can be used to reach out to patients, including inquiries. A health care organization can send a text message introducing the organizations, their activities, and services offered in the health care field. This kind of introductory message can be helpful in marketing to popularize the brand. These messages can contain a keyword that a patient can use to reply or send an SMS On receipt of this keyword, more information about the services offered can be provided.
2) Taking appointments
Instead of calling to fix an appointment, an SMS can be used by customers to make an appointment to avail of health care services. Patients can be encouraged to send an SMS if they want to fix an appointment. A keyword can be reserved for appointment booking. On receipt of this keyword, the software used for group texting can detect the date and time and set an appointment. A confirmation SMS can immediately be sent to the patient confirming the appointment, they can be asked to confirm Y or N to either confirm or cancel the appointment.
3) Reminders and alerts
In the health care sector, regular reminders need to be sent to ensure that patients attend appointments on time. Patients who miss their appointment disturb the doctor’s schedule and every missed appointment leads to work disruption. It is thus required to keep sending reminders to patients reminding them of the date and time of the appointment. This ensures that appointments will not be missed. The schedule text message option can be used to send such reminders.
Apart from this, other alerts like the expiry of membership (where applicable) payment of bills or fees, information on new wellness packages can all be sent through SMS. This ensures the timely flow of information while serving the purpose of marketing.
4) Health information
Health-related information can also be sent to patients through SMS. This can include:
Diagnosis of patients as well as any test reports, lab reports can be delivered through SMS.
Prescriptions can be sent through SMS allowing the patient to use the same to buy medicines anywhere.
Health-related advice like measures to improve immunity, preventive health care measures, diet tips, etc. Can also be sent through SMS.
Any important information related to recall of medicine or recall of a medical product can be sent over SMS ensuring it reaches the patient immediately.
5) Patient feedback
It is important for health care organizations to get feedback from patients. This feedback will help them evaluate their services and identify areas for improvement. Feedback can be taken in two ways. An SMS can be sent to a feedback question and the patient can reply with Y or N or by sending a rating in the form of a number Alternately, a website link to a detailed feedback form can be sent through SMS.
Text messaging or SMS allows health care professionals to easily communicate with patients. A database of patients and texting software is all that is needed to send SMS and use it effectively for marketing activities.