Automating healthcare communications: The future of patient engagement

Topic: Healthcare, Technology

In a recent study of 200 Healthcare leaders, 97% stated that Covid-19 has – “significantly accelerated the change agenda”. While this is hardly surprising, it is worth noting that some Healthcare organisations experienced a huge 400% increase in telehealth visits.

The NHS delivered a remarkable amount of elective treatment during the height of the pandemic. However, the pressure of caring for large numbers of seriously unwell patients with Covid-19, understandably, led to the waiting list for elective care reaching the highest level since records began. As pressure builds to ‘catch-up’ on rescheduled and previously paused elective care, Healthcare organisations continue to face great challenges.

Intelligent automation is just one major tactic that’s being used by the NHS to streamline operations and improve patient outcomes. At Esendex we’re privileged enough to have worked with many Healthcare organisations to deliver automated patient communications. We know first-hand these can help save invaluable time and resources, which given the challenges ahead, are essential.

What are automated communications?

Automated communications are messages which are automatically sent to individuals or groups of recipients, with little or no manual intervention.

Automated communications at Esendex

Utilising Esendex’s communication solutions, automated communications can be achieved in three main ways:

  1. SMS API
    • Integrate SMS into your existing services. Our intelligent API is currently available in cURL, C#, PHP, Java, Ruby, Node, and Go.
  2. SMS software plugins
    • Integrate Esendex products with existing systems or applications, for example, Clanwilliam patient engagement software.
  3. Esendex Automations
    • Create bespoke communication workflows and auto-replies with our Managed Services team, using rule-based triggers.

Esendex’s automations leverage existing business systems and datasets. There’s no need to upload sheets, connect to an API, or download new software. Automations are ideal for organisations looking to automate the bulk sending of templated message(s) to patients, from a fixed file. Previously, your team may have organised patient communications, by downloading, preparing and then manually uploading various recipient lists to the Esendex platform. Working with our Managed Services team, we can create a solution by which this file is uploaded to an SFTP – secure file transfer.

From there, Esendex’s automation framework analyses the file and based on pre-agreed workflows, triggers and templated messages, will automatically instigate all communications. Ensuring for example, all patients receive accurate, timely, appointment reminders, test results or even prescription alerts, via whichever communication channel was previously set – SMS, Voice or Email.

What impact can automating healthcare communications have?

The impact of automating healthcare communications is two-fold. First healthcare communications can have a significant effect on patient engagement and outcomes. Of the healthcare organisations already using patient engagement technology:

  • 85% said automated reminders improved patient experience
  • 78% said automated recall improved patient outcomes
  • 86% said use of text messaging improved patient experience
  • 81% said use of text messaging improved patient outcomes

Thus, it makes sense that 52% of health system Chief Information Officers (up from 14% the previous year), ranked deploying patient engagement technology as their top priority for 2021.

Secondly, automated communications free-up invaluable time and resources. The Institute of Public Policy Research estimates that automation could save the NHS as much as £12.5 billion per year. Not only can automated communications help reduce Did-Not-Attend rates by as much as 17-30%, it also saves staff time. Enabling Healthcare providers to focus on providing their patients the best care.

The future of patient engagement

Ultimately, we predict that the future of patient engagement will involve an increasing number of use cases managed, or at the very least supported, by automated communications. Afterall, text reminders to patient mobiles can improve medication adherence by 17.8%. And automated communications are still a relatively new concept within Healthcare. In terms of identifying the patient health strategies automated messages could help support, we believe we’re only scratching the surface. Additionally, to ensure patients feel comfortable and remain trusting of telehealth processes, we expect Healthcare providers will continue to focus on creating patient-first communication strategies. This will include careful consideration of patient communication channel preferences.

We have already seen an increase in the volume of text messages from healthcare providers during the pandemic. With many vaccination related communications delivered via SMS, patient anticipation of appointment confirmation and reminder text messages has increased. It logically follows then, that Healthcare organisations of all sizes will either continue or introduce SMS communications, to aid better patient engagement.

If you’d like to learn more about how Esendex automations can support your healthcare organisation, simply contact one of our expert team at sales@esendex.com.

Author Avatar
Demi Edmunds

Hi, I'm Demi, Campaign Manager at Esendex and I benefit from experience across the marketing mix, in both B2C and B2B. I'm passionate about helping clients realise the full potential of multichannel communications and bridge the gap between brands and their customers.