What does the future of patient engagement look like in the healthcare sector?

Topic: Healthcare

Healthcare providers must connect with a wide variety of patient demographics, while at the same time making sure that the messages are sent in such a way that they have the best chance of being opened and read.
Digital communication channels such as SMS, IVRs, web chat and bots are in the process of being adopted – all of which help to relieve the pressure on admin teams, are more convenient for the patient, and are cost effective. This is in addition to traditional channels like postal mail, which still forms a big part in connecting with certain demographics.
However, healthcare providers seeking an approach which maximises engagement potential for each of their patient demographics should be making themselves familiar with RCS – the successor to SMS, set to be rolled out in late 2018 / 2019.

What is RCS?

Rich Communication Services, or RCS, is the telecommunication’s response to the growth in popularity of messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
It will replace SMS as the default messaging app on Android devices, and will continue to support plain text messages, but will also allow people – and businesses – to send rich media such as videos, interactive maps and Call-To-Action buttons.
RCS offers an experience similar to popular messaging apps, but the key difference is that it doesn’t have to be downloaded – all Android phones will have it automatically installed.
A further benefit for businesses is that they can apply for ‘verified sender’ status, which allows them to use their font, logo and colours in the sender section. This is intended to drive out spam use of the platform, and ensure messages are trusted and acted upon.

What are the applications of RCS in the healthcare sector?

RCS can be used to automate a multitude of previously manual processes – but perhaps the biggest way that it can aid in the healthcare sector is rescheduling appointments.
It’s been well documented that missed appointments the NHS alone close to 1 billion pounds per year (source) so any help to reduce this figure by utilising the latest technologies is likely to be well received. Although RCS offers a large amount of additional functionality, the way it works is simple and straightforward, with the aim of encouraging mass-adoption of the platform, regardless of age or technical competency.
Once an appointment has been made in practice, the healthcare provider would be able to send a confirmation message through to the patient. This confirmation could include the date and time of the appointment, perhaps a photo of the practice or practitioner, and also an integrated maps feature allowing the patient to easily find the practice.
The patient could also select an option to automatically add the appointment to their own calendar (which in turn would reduce the chances of the appointment being missed), and if required select an option to rearrange the appointment. When selected this would present the patient with a series of dates, followed by a series of times to choose from. The patient would then make their selection and the updated information would be fed directly into the practice’s in-house CRM system.

How can healthcare providers get started with RCS?

With any new communication platform there will be questions over how easy it is to implement, how wide the adoption will be by the public, and what the fall-back options are for non-RCS users. We have a team of public sector and healthcare specialists who are already working within the industry on healthcare applications of RCS, so to find out more, we’d encourage you to get in contact with our team today on 0345 356 5758 or email us at [email protected].

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