27 February 2019
More and more pharmacies are becoming aware of the benefits of using modern communication channels to have better conversations with patients. Sending letters, and making manual phone calls are fine, but they can all too often become an expensive, inconvenient and laborious way to spend resource.
Forward-thinking pharmacies have realised that they stand a better chance of having successful communications by targeting patients’ mobile devices. SMS represents a great way to do this. It’s inexpensive, simple for patients to understand, and has an unequalled open rate of 95%.
Here are just some of the ways that pharmacies can make use of the platform:
1. Supplying repeat prescriptions
A massive amount of the prescriptions given by doctors are repeats, which can present a problem for pharmacists when backlogs of uncollected drugs build up. More boxes and bottles in storage means it is often difficult to locate the items patients require. Uncollected prescriptions can also often go to waste meaning more expense for healthcare providers.
A better way of reminding patients to come and collect their prescriptions is often needed – and that’s where SMS can help.
SMS provides an automated, cost-effective, and highly engaging way to remind patients that their prescriptions are ready to collect. In theory, using this reminder method can also help promote a more careful approach to medication programme adherence, which in turn could benefit patients’ health.
Sending repeat prescriptions through SMS also means that:
- Patients can save time at the pharmacy by only picking up medications when they’re ready
- Patients will receive advanced notice of when they’re about to run out of medication.
2. Vaccination reminders
As the strain on local practices continues to soar, it’s no longer uncommon to find yourself waiting days before getting an appointment to see a doctor. A recent NHS report stated that 11% of patients could not get an appointment at all, while a further 28% could not get through to a surgery on the phone. For 49% of patients, it’s their biggest frustration regarding healthcare (source).
As a result of this, powers to carry out simple procedures like administering vaccinations are being given to pharmacies to alleviate some of this pressure on doctors. SMS has proven effective in helping pharmacies to manage these vaccinations.
If pharmacies set up automatically triggered vaccination reminders, it removes the requirement for patients to make contact with their doctor, by using integrated links within the SMS to either book an appointment online or make an appointment over the phone with their local pharmacist. This also helps out local doctors’ practices, by freeing up more time to focus on more complex patient issues.
3. Pharmacy appointment reminders
A recent report by the NHS stated that the cost of missed appointments for GPs has now reached £216m a year. This equated to more than 15 million consultations being wasted.
As more and more services are being passed over to pharmacies (E.g. vaccination administration, and advice on treating minor health concerns and healthy living), it’s important that systems are being put into place now to stop pharmacies suffering the same problems as GPs. Again – this is where SMS can help.
The way it works is simple. Pharmacies can either use an SMS provider’s online portal to manage their patients’ contact details, and subsequently send scheduled appointment reminders, or employ an SMS provider’s API and integrate SMS functionality into their existing systems.
Where adopted, GPs sending SMS texts to remind patients of their appointment has been known to reduce missed appointments by as much as 30%.
What does the future look like for pharmacy to patient communications?
The key to future engagement for pharmacies is providing the tools required for patients to self-serve. Actions which have traditionally required a physical interaction with an actual pharmacist (E.g. a manual call to make an appointment) can all be automated by using next-generation communication technologies.
RCS and SMS Landing Pages will allow pharmacies to perform the following actions:
- Booking and rearranging appointments automatically
- Add appointments to calendar
- Sending smart appointment reminders (i.e include images of healthcare professionals and practices)
- Inoculation reminders (i.e. link to existing appointment management systems)
- Send prescriptions
- Supply test results.
Interested to know more about how SMS can help pharmacies?
We’ve worked with a variety of different pharmacies and healthcare providers to provide more engaging ways to communicate with their patients.
To find out how SMS and our next generation communication channels can help your pharmacy contact our team on 0345 356 5758 / firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.