Reduce missed appointments in healthcare with WhatsAppTopic: WhatsApp
23 June 2022
Healthcare providers are under constant pressure to provide exceptional levels of service which comes at a significant cost. The industry also haemorrhages up to £1bn through no-show patient appointments – budget that could be far better spent elsewhere. Whilst traditional technologies are proving ineffective,It’s clear that the more traditional approaches, such as reminders in the form of texts or even letters, are no longer as effective as they used to be. This is where next-generation channels like WhatsApp come into play (and it can still work when connecting with mature demographics).
What questions must providers ask when planning their new appointment handling strategy?
- How can we reduce the administrative strain?
- How do we automate appointment management?
- What happens when there are surges in appointment demand?
- How do we ensure all demographics can access services/appointments in a timely and responsive way?
- How do we strategically communicate any other health-related advice?
What are the benefits of WhatsApp for the healthcare sector?
- Reduced administrative strain – as teams can handle multiple conversations with patients at the same time through WhatsApp, rather than having to have one call at a time.
- Time savings thanks to automation – features such as bots can be introduced, which allow appointments to be made by patients, without the need to speak to an agent. Then the details can be automatically added to existing CRM systems.
- A scalable solution – the WhatsApp solution is completely scalable meaning if there are surges in demand for appointments, healthcare professionals or admin teams will be set up to cope with demand.
- User friendly – WhatsApp appointment booking interactions are very easy for patients to interact with. Predictive responses mean that buttons can be selected to choose the date and time required, rather than having to manually type a requirement.
- Available round-the-clock – WhatsApp is accessible 24/7 so appointment booking and amends can be done at any time of the day, meaning fewer calls and patients waiting.
What else can WhatsApp do to help the appointment management process?
The WhatsApp Business Platform opens up new possibilities within the healthcare sector. Here are some of the functionalities can be deployed:
- Google Maps locations – patients can find the premises easily, which in turn reduces the chance of a missed appointment.
- Add appointments to the patient’s in-device calendar – calendars will often send a push notification which will reduce the chances of appointments being missed.
- Use bots to automate all processes – automate processes like appointment handling, leaving your admin team more time to focus on more complex tasks.
Do patients actually want to use WhatsApp for their appointments?
Patients are missing their appointments for a variety of reasons, from reminders getting lost to the cancellation process being too labourious for their liking. So, while WhatsApp Business Platform offers plenty of clear benefits for healthcare providers, is it actually something that patients want?
Here are some statistics that may help to make light of patient preferences when it comes to communication:
- 55% of patients prefer to be reminded of their medical appointments through mobile channels like WhatsApp, compared to 35% for email.
- 95% of messages sent by healthcare providers are opened by patients.
- 90% of healthcare patients will open a text in under 1 minute of it being sent.
- 90% of millennials book medical appointments through their mobile devices.
- GPs report that up to 20% of patient interactions are now being accessed via the patient’s mobile phone, with this number expected to rise.
Could WhatsApp help reduce missed appointments?
It’s early days for using WhatsApp for appointment management, but there are encouraging signs already:
- Text messages reminders increased appointment attendance for some GPs by nearly 50% (Health Services Research)
- Less than 5% of appointments are cancelled after patients receive a reminder sent to their mobile devices
After implementing a mobile-focused appointment reminder strategy, one NHS trust reported a 25% decrease in missed appointments. If the same could be done for every other NHS trust then this would mean a 400,000 reduction in missed hospital appointments every year, and a saving to the NHS of £64,000,000*.
Put into context, this figure would be enough to pay for the salaries of 2,560 nurses**
*Based on an individual appointment cost of £160 at an average salary of £25,000
How can healthcare providers get started with WhatsApp?
Delivering exceptional healthcare has always been and will always be important. From reducing administrative strain and improving internal efficiency to interactive features that improve the overall patient experience, it’s clear that WhatsApp Business Platform is something your trust should be taking advantage of.