The past few years have seen a proliferation of digital communication systems across several industries, one of which is healthcare. Recent occurrences, most notably the COVID-19 pandemic, have stressed the importance of effective and efficient communication between healthcare providers and patients.
Though digital communication in healthcare is not a new concept, the adoption rate has increased dramatically in recent years, with customers demanding both physical and digital patient experiences. This demand has pushed hospitals and other healthcare providers to look to digital communication methods – a development that promises great rewards for patients.
It is especially true of patients with long-term conditions, who can receive advice, support and reminders about treatments from clinicians–in real-time. Improving their ability to manage their conditions and decreasing the clinicians’ workload.
It also results in increased patient autonomy; according to a research report by Professor Frances Griffiths from the Warwick Medical School:
“Digital communication enables timely access for [young] people to the right clinician at the time when it can make a difference to how they manage their health condition. This is an addition to traditional clinic appointments and can engage those otherwise disengaged. It can enhance patient autonomy, empowerment and activation.”
“It [digital communication] can enhance patient autonomy, empowerment and activation.” – Professor Frances Griffiths
As more research is carried out, it is increasingly evident that the employment of digital communication in healthcare benefits all involved–providers and patients alike.
Things to consider
The first step to deciding how to communicate is to adopt the preferred communication channel of each patient. Patients vary, and so do their preferences. For example, a younger recipient may choose to be reached via WhatsApp or email, while an older person may prefer SMS or voice. As a provider, you should be able to send information over recipients’ preferred channel and meet them wherever they are.
Hence, it is advisable to select a communications provider with omnichannel support. One that allows you to reach out to recipients on various channels, all from one place.
This is possible with HollaTags, which offers a variety of SMS options. We also provide IVR (Interactive Voice Response) integrations and sophisticated Voice call systems to manage inbound and outbound calls for patients who would prefer to communicate by voice.
Increased accessibility to health information could also pose a security risk if the information is not shared on a secure channel. Hospitals are notorious for poor cybersecurity, and information transmitted via email can be viewed by anyone with access to the email address.
One way to ensure increased security is to provide patients fill a consent form before receiving emails. This will help verify communication details and absolve the hospital of liability if an email breach occurs.
Patients are also advised to encrypt their mobile phones and messaging applications to prevent exposing sensitive health information in the case of loss or theft.
Health literacy, the degree to which individuals can understand basic health information, is an essential factor that affects communication.
Health care professionals should consider patients’ health literacy levels and adjust accordingly. It is not enough to communicate; the information shared must be valuable and easy to understand.
Low health literacy is prevalent in older adults, individuals with low socioeconomic status, or those with a limited understanding of the language. Therefore, efforts should be made to break complex medical terms into everyday words and offer translations to other spoken languages.
For example, while filling out the consent form, a Nigerian health care provider could provide an option for a preferred language of communication such as Pidgin English, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Esan etc.
Case Study (EMRO)
EMRO is a platform that provides subscribers with quick emergency medical and armed response services. They have strategically positioned ambulances and armed response vehicles around Lagos to ensure an immediate response. They also provide other Value-added Services, including danger zone notifications and safety tips.
See a Need…
EMRO was looking to tap into the digital communication potential that HollaTags offers to help businesses scale by improving user experience and widening market reach, among other things.
A severe challenge for digital operations is security. EMRO needed to implement a seamless two-factor authentication process to boost security for their payment gateway. The platform also needed to expand its user base to provide people without internet or smartphone access. Their voice call system also needed to be reworked to enable automatic routing of calls to the call centre.
Fill a Need
HollaTags to the rescue
As more patients demand a better digital healthcare experience, providers must act quickly to satisfy these demands. With HollaTags, you are assured of a digital communication platform with an omnichannel approach–to reach patients wherever they are–along with Tier 1 connectivity, which means increased security and direct carrier connections for SMS, Voice, USSD and Carrier Billing.