The development of digital communication is essential for managing healthcare. Telehealth solutions are necessary because of the rising demand for high-quality medical services. Hospitals have started using WhatsApp to give their clients the best service.
For instance, UMP Healthcare Holdings Limited has recently launched a WhatsApp appointment system. It enables customers to – Check medical reports
– Make appointments by sending WhatsApp messages
which reduces the hospital staff’s workload.
Now let’s look at how medical institutions use WhatsApp for healthcare services.
Table of Contents
WhatsApp for Healthcare: The Problem
Traditional hospital practices cannot meet the demands of an increasing number of individuals who want access to high-quality healthcare without the hurdles of face-to-face interaction that deter many from seeking treatment.
Customers schedule appointments for medical checkups via phone calls and internet tools. But, using such channels prevents users from asking follow-up questions in real-time.
Customers also find it hard to record their physical examination details over the phone. Due to the large volume of phone calls per day, customers had to wait long before a live person could take their call.
WhatsApp for Healthcare: The Solution
Today, WhatsApp makes user journeys much more straightforward than if they were offline. Also, the WhatsApp Business features have a lot to offer the healthcare industry in speed and accuracy.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) partnered with WhatsApp to create awareness of COVID-19. Customers can converse on WhatsApp to get the
-Latest information and news
-Help in identifying symptoms
-And precautionary steps.
According to a research article published by the Israel Journal of Health Policy Research, the requirement for in-person appointments at least once a week has decreased due to WhatsApp, according to 95.7 per cent of medical specialists and 60.7% of Physical Care Physicians.
With WhatsApp being the most popular messaging platform, it’s a necessity for hospitals to move to this messaging platform.
But one cannot just use the standard WhatsApp account to solve this problem. What you’ll need instead is WhatsApp Business API.
WhatsApp Business API for the healthcare industry
Using WhatsApp Business API in the healthcare industry is not a new concept. However, combining the advantages of healthcare services with the reach and strength of the world’s most potent instant messaging app is the only better method to improve this industry and please the customers.
For instance, there are a lot of proven WhatsApp for healthcare solutions that medical institutions can embrace in their strategy, starting with the WhatsApp chatbot.
WhatsApp chatbot for Healthcare
When providing prompt assistance to patients in need, a WhatsApp chatbot will save time, money, and hassle.
Hospitals can roll out WhatsApp chatbots to help people find medical facilities or ward information. By automating conversations through WhatsApp, hospitals can scale up and reach more people at once!
The healthcare sector can use WhatsApp’s popularity to interact with its stakeholders. A WhatsApp chatbot for healthcare will comprehend user behaviour through crafted algorithms.
A well-set-up chatbot will provide a deeper and more individualised customer experience.
Some WhatsApp chatbot use cases can be pretty beneficial to hospitals and patients. Let’s look at them.
Streamline the appointment process with a chatbot
Patients can schedule appointments with the aid of a WhatsApp Chabot. The chatbot can direct the patient to a specific department or doctor within the hospital. The chatbot may also help patients make appointments for consultations, checkups, and even check a doctor’s schedules.
It’s not just that; WhatsApp chatbots can help with appointment reminders.
Patients will get frustrated if they miss an appointment. There is a chance that patients would overlook the precise hours and schedules while making an appointment, mainly when doing so online. A WhatsApp chatbot can provide patients with timely appointment reminders and confirmation messages.
For example, Hong kong-based UMP healthcare launched the WhatsApp reservation system developed by WATI (WhatsApp Team Inbox), the official partner of WhatsApp. Customers can obtain the required information for physical examination by entering the numbers. Then, they can make an appointment request with the contact information, and the customer service will confirm the booking within 24 hrs.
In this way, the customers no longer have to wait on the call but send WhatsApp messages and wait for a reply. On the other hand, the frontline staff in the Call Center can relieve the workload of explanation and directly get to the point.
Also, the chatbot will only send pre-set questions with canned answers, which consumers can effortlessly complete the query.
Now that you’ve captured the data, what can it do with it? Can it be used for consultations? Yes, it can be.
Gathering data for faster medical evaluation
The healthcare centre could also ask the patients to fill in their data through WhatsApp. Then, when patients arrive at the clinic, they can immediately have their bodies checked after a simple registration. The process is remarkably streamlined, reducing the waiting time in the clinic.
With WhatsApp Business API, many hospital institutions have designed various customer enquiry processes.
Before proceeding with the conversation, the chatbot will require the users to agree to terms and conditions to ensure the customers understand that they might have to disclose some personal information during the process.
An excellent example in this scenario is symptom evaluation
Now, patients can use their smartphone or any other device to describe their symptoms to chatbots. Accordingly, the chatbot can recommend a specialist or doctor based on symptoms.
Patients need not call a medical expert or support team to get clarification. Additionally, it helps doctors develop trust with their patients and acquire many leads.
Now that the customers have shared their data, record-keeping for future evaluations is the next area to explore.
Record keeping to access the patient health records
For doctors or hospital personnel, gaining access to each patient’s medical records is a monumental undertaking. Doctors can get all pertinent patient information using WhatsApp Business.
In addition, healthcare firms can store patient medical data by combining WhatsApp Business API with third-party technologies. This feature allows doctors to give their patients appropriate care quickly.
Sharing crucial medical information and reminders
Test results can be successfully communicated by hospitals using a WhatsApp chatbot. Thus, patients can better manage their time by avoiding travel to obtain the reports from the centre. Additionally, patients can use the chatbot to schedule tests, see pending reports, and request reports.
Healthcare firms may build close relationships with their patient’s thanks to these individualised, prompt responses, which can increase customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. You can even go further by sharing tips on looking after yourself.
Sharing health tips
To encourage general good health and eating habits, a WhatsApp chatbot for healthcare may effortlessly provide daily health suggestions like
- Keeping up with hygiene
- Eating a balanced diet.
- Healthy lifestyle
- Managing mental health
- Sleep habits and much more
Sharing health tips encourages people to lead healthier lifestyles and increases the value of your brand as a whole. Also, can online counselling be offered since we touched on mental health? Yes.
Mental Health Counselling
You can conduct counselling sessions for mental health issues using WhatsApp for outpatients or people who live far away. WhatsApp Business API can make this activity more straightforward, allowing multiple doctors to offer immediate counselling services and urgent assistance in an emergency.
Patients can also use WhatsApp to express their struggles if they have issues talking in person or find it difficult to open up to someone they don’t know.
Payments and health insurance guidance
Regarding health care, payments and health insurance claims go hand-in-hand. Patients can pay online while scheduling a doctor’s appointment, streamlining and further simplifying the multi-step procedure that was previously complicated and tiresome for patients.
Additionally, insurance entails mountains of paperwork, receipts, and inquiries. With WhatsApp’s chatbot, patients can now quickly get their questions answered. It is also possible to upload required papers in the chat by taking pictures and uploading them.
Collaboration within the hospital staff
The hospital staff can also benefit from a WhatsApp chatbot for healthcare. For example, through a straightforward inquiry in the WhatsApp chatbot, information regarding the availability or status of
-Oxygen cylinders, etc.
can be quickly retrieved.
Collect feedback from patients
Every day, hospitals receive many calls, most of which are complaints. Bots can handle these queries, document them, give the customers pertinent information, transfer them to the correct department, and even gather feedback.
Also, Chatbots can forward complex questions to live agents or support teams to investigate further and resolve queries. Patients can even access a history of previous discussions on WhatsApp and any pertinent information shared.
Bot-to-human handover of interactions
The customer care representative can handle complex questions or concerns as and when needed, thanks to a smooth chatbot-to-human handover capability.
With this feature, doctors can attend to patients who have specialised questions rather than spending hours responding to common queries that don’t need them to think or strategise.
With so many benefits to using WhatsApp for healthcare services, there are also some regulations set in place by WhatsApp.
WhatsApp for Healthcare policies
When it comes to conducting business on its platform, WhatsApp is stringent. Therefore, you should be aware of the following WhatsApp Business and Commerce policies to prevent violations.
WhatsApp Business cannot be used by companies whose primary business is selling medical products. As per WhatsApp’s commerce policy, businesses and pharmacies are not permitted to advertise or sell medications, medical equipment, or other products through WhatsApp.
Some pharmacies are, however, permitted to conduct business on WhatsApp if they have a “separate clinical laboratory or patient care services” and adhere to the rules listed below:
- You must specify the type of medical service provided in the WhatsApp business account (Like clinic, lab, vaccines, testing, diagnosis centre).
- Your website should show that you offer administering vaccinations and any form of medical testing.
Additionally, selling supplements of any type is not permitted on WhatsApp. You cannot do it through the catalogue, chat threads, business profiles, or message templates.
Also, because of tighter legal constraints regarding health data, medical care providers in the United States or France cannot use WhatsApp services since it doesn’t comply with GDPR and the US HIPA act.
WhatsApp for Healthcare - Challenges of record-keeping and data storage
Since the COVID-19 epidemic, WhatsApp has become more widely used in healthcare. However, protecting patient data while adding it to an electronic or paper-based medical record is still important.
Only 16 of 346 papers reported the use of WhatsApp for healthcare in clinical practice addressed record keeping or data storage. However, most medical clinics knew that they must comply with statutory reporting requirements in keeping medical records of all electronic communications.
According to the above study, many clinics are not meeting numerous legal, moral, and best practice standards. The explanations are evident: on the one hand, WhatsApp is widely used, cost-free, simple to use, practical, and fits clinicians’ needs.
On the other hand, there isn’t any thorough, uniform, or understandable advice on how to use WhatsApp appropriately or how to move communications to a paper or digital patient record for adequate record-keeping and storage.
Problematic methods and workarounds have been developed without clear norms, raising new legal, regulatory, and ethical difficulties. The difficulties clinicians face in fulfilling these commitments must be made more widely known, and relevant authorities must implement effective measures immediately.
Clinicians must adhere to jurisdictionally specific legal and ethical obligations to maintain patient records and store patient information in addition to data protection laws. In the past, clinicians kept paper-based files and notes in the patient’s medical records housed in a filing cabinet. More recently, they have used one type of electronic record over another.
Patient information is frequently stored on both the senders’ and receivers’ mobile phones due to the rising popularity of smartphones and instant messaging programmes like WhatsApp, neither of which were intended for use in healthcare. To move the data to a medical record and subsequently store the electronic data, proactive measures must be implemented.
Contrary to the stricter policies, WhatsApp has also published a guide for Health care professionals that can help them connect better with patients and colleagues.
WhatsApp for Healthcare - Guide by WhatsApp
- Set up personalised welcome messages so patients can contact you immediately and receive resources and information.
- Make a quick link that patients can use to start a private WhatsApp chat with you if you don’t already have their phone numbers. Share the link on your Facebook page, email, or other private platforms.
- To communicate with clients or coworkers who could be challenging to contact in person, use encrypted video and audio communications.
- To send the same private message to multiple people, use a broadcast list. WhatsApp will only deliver your broadcast message to contacts who have added you to their phone’s address book.
- Keep copies of the messages you send frequently so you can immediately react to patients’ inquiries.
- Make sure your patients know your business hours and location, particularly if you have changed them.
- You can post text, pictures, and video updates using status. Share advice on good hygiene habits and other preventative measures in case of virus outbreaks.
- Use an automatic away message to let patients know when they may expect a response from you during this hectic season.
WhatsApp Business for Healthcare: Final Thoughts
For health care providers, providing patients with the best care requires more than merely carrying out procedures and making diagnoses. All phases of the healthcare process require effective communication.
Effective communication plays a vital role in healthcare, whether a health centre is sharing patient data with another hospital or a group of doctors and specialists debating the best course of action for their patients.
Strong communication policies in healthcare facilities can improve patients’ health. Still, weak policies can have a detrimental effect on patients’ well-being. By implementing WhatsApp for healthcare, healthcare businesses can streamline their communication procedures and make it simple to get in touch with potential customers whenever possible.
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