Much of the information we receive today is sent digitally. We trust the Internet to send correspondence, to see our monetary information with online banking, and even to conduct business using videoconferencing calls during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another common use of the Internet’s ability to easily transmit information is in the world of healthcare, with the usage of patient portals to inform patients of test results, schedule appointments, and conduct other business matters. However, it is difficult to judge the efficacy of this form of communication when patients do not enjoy engaging with it. Current statistics show that less than ten percent of patients will log in to their patient portals to check their messages. Studies have shown that patients would much rather be able to communicate with their healthcare provider in a format that is more familiar to them—on their mobile devices through healthcare messaging.
This is possible by the incorporation of omnichannel communication into the healthcare industry. Implementing this omnichannel communication has numerous advantages for patients. Not only are they already familiar with the formatting of their messaging application of choice, but they are likely used to checking these applications or their SMS inbox for notifications from others. This reduces the likelihood of messages being missed or skipped over when they are sent. If patients actually read the information that their provider sends, then they are more likely to make it to appointments or stay consistent with a treatment plan. This keeps patients healthier and ultimately happier, as unaddressed health concerns can be difficult to live with.
The benefits of omnichannel communication are not limited to patients. Healthcare providers and physicians have the potential to save billions of dollars if miscommunications between patient and physician are ironed out—not to mention the lives saved when both patient and physician understand what is happening in the patient’s body. Clinical staff are reliant on messaging to help better care for patients, and valuable time could be saved when matters such as appointment confirmations can be conducted through text instead of a phone call. Many physicians already use mobile messaging to consult one another regarding treating certain cases. By putting omnichannel communication into practice between patient and physician, it allows for more efficiency in messaging and potentially allows for solutions to be reached faster.
Omnichannel communication also helps to further build communities, especially between those with similar conditions. Using this method to communicate with patients allows physicians to connect those in their practice with others going through or that have gone through similar experiences. This allows people to share their stories, struggles, and learn together about their bodies and how to keep themselves healthy. Omnichannel communication also makes it easier for loved ones of the individual to be able to reach out to their person’s healthcare team. It saves time on the side of the clinical staff to be able to quickly assuage fears or give updates over a typed message (as opposed to a lengthy phone call from Aunt Bertha). This would also prevent misinformation coming from faulty sources, as questions can be quickly fielded and credible answers given.
Having the ability to quickly receive accurate and important information from a healthcare provider has the power to totally transform how we take care of people. With a quick text to a provider or patient, time is saved, miscommunications are cleared up, and solutions have the potential to be found faster. Utilizing the technology we already have access to will help every patient, from being more convenient to save their life. For more statistics, exciting applications, and general information on digital communication in healthcare, refer to the exciting visual explanation below.