The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the adoption of WhatsApp for healthcare to the forefront. Many institutions and organizations worldwide are embracing WhatsApp healthcare to deliver services and solutions in a way that minimizes overhead expenses and offers patients quick, secure and personalized support, even in times of crisis. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know to get started with WhatsApp business for healthcare.
What is WhatsApp for Healthcare?
WhatsApp for healthcare refers to the use of WhatsApp as a tool to facilitate communication and collaboration between healthcare providers, patients, and other stakeholders in the healthcare industry.
With the widespread use of smartphones, WhatsApp has become a preferred mode of communication for over 2 billion people.
This presents healthcare professionals with an opportunity to communicate with patients in a channel they are comfortable with. Let’s go through the reasons why WhatsApp is a great messaging channel for the healthcare industry.
WhatsApp for Healthcare: Benefits over Traditional Messaging Channels
WhatsApp has become ubiquitous, with people all over the world using it to communicate with friends and family. This means that healthcare providers can communicate with their patients using a platform that they are already familiar with.
No matter where a clinic or hospital is based, it's likely that their patients are already using WhatsApp, making it an accessible and convenient tool for healthcare communication.
Another significant benefit of using WhatsApp for healthcare communication is its end-to-end encryption. This means that messages sent through WhatsApp are only visible to the sender and the recipient. Therefore, it’s a secure platform for sharing sensitive data such as medical information.
End-to-end encryption ensures that patient data remains confidential and protected from unauthorized access, providing peace of mind to both healthcare providers and patients.
Compared to traditional communication channels like phone and email, WhatsApp offers several advantages for healthcare communication. For instance, WhatsApp allows healthcare providers to send files, images, videos and voice notes, making it easier to communicate complex medical information.
Additionally, WhatsApp messages can be saved, searched and accessed at any time, providing a record of the patient's medical history. Finally, WhatsApp's real-time communication enables healthcare providers to respond quickly to patient inquiries, reducing wait times and improving patient satisfaction.
WhatsApp for Healthcare: Business and Commerce Policies
Healthcare providers need to review WhatsApp’s commerce policies and guidelines carefully to ensure that they are eligible to use WhatsApp. It's crucial to follow these rules and regulations to avoid any violations, which may result in account suspension or termination.
First and foremost, you should obtain patients' consent to receive WhatsApp notifications. This can be done by asking patients to opt-in to receive reminders through WhatsApp when they schedule their appointments.
Additionally, healthcare providers must ensure that they only share information that is necessary and relevant to patient care, and that the information is transmitted securely through end-to-end encryption.
Patient data must be protected and kept confidential in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. Moreover, healthcare providers must use WhatsApp only for legitimate healthcare purposes, and not for marketing or promotional activities.
By following these policies, healthcare providers can ensure the safe and secure transmission of medical information through WhatsApp. Now, let’s go through some best practices healthcare businesses should know.
WhatsApp for Healthcare: How to Use it
Other WhatsApp groups can be used to share healthy lifestyle recommendations or general health information with patients with the aim of encouraging wellness and disease prevention. But WhatsApp can also be used for communication between healthcare businesses.
Medical centers can send prescription orders to pharmacies via WhatsApp, including patient details and prescribed medications. Pharmacists can confirm the order, provide estimated delivery times, and coordinate prescription pickups or deliveries.
On a similar note, pharmacies can proactively inform medical centers about the availability of specific medications or any shortages. This helps medical centers make informed decisions when prescribing medications to patients.
Healthcare businesses worldwide have been using WhatsApp for years. Next, we’ll discuss how an Indian healthcare company leverages WhatsApp Business for healthcare to enhance its operations and patient communication.
Success Story: How Practo Uses WhatsApp for Healthcare
Practo is one of the leading healthcare technology companies in India. It operates as a comprehensive healthcare platform that connects patients with doctors, clinics, diagnostic centers and other healthcare providers.
The company offers a range of services, including online doctor consultations, appointment scheduling, health records management, and wellness solutions. The company integrated WhatsApp into its system to enhance communication between healthcare providers and patients.
Practo uses WhatsApp in various ways. Firstly, patients conveniently book appointments with doctors and healthcare facilities through Practo's platform via WhatsApp, simplifying the process and providing a user-friendly channel.
Secondly, Practo uses WhatsApp to send appointment reminders, reducing no-shows and improving appointment adherence. Patients receive reminders via WhatsApp, staying informed and prepared for consultations.
Moreover, WhatsApp enables secure and direct communication between doctors and patients, allowing patients to consult, ask questions, and seek clarifications regarding their health concerns, eliminating the need for in-person visits for minor queries.
Overall, Practo's utilization of WhatsApp enhances the patient experience by streamlining appointment booking, reducing no-shows through reminders, and providing a secure and efficient communication channel for doctor-patient interactions.
If you’ve found Practo’s story insightful, keep reading. We’ll share some best practices you can implement to communicate with patients on WhatsApp.
WhatsApp for Healthcare: Best Practices with respond.io
Companies often use the WhatsApp Business App to communicate with clients due to its simplicity and free cost. However, it is designed only for small and micro businesses, and it lacks the advanced features and multiuser capabilities healthcare businesses need.
In contrast, WhatsApp API is designed for large businesses and enterprises. As it is just an API, it has no front end, so it must be connected to a customer conversation management software like respond.io.
With the respond.io WhatsApp Business API, healthcare providers can take advantage of advanced automation, multi-channel communication, and other features that make it easy to manage patient conversations and provide better care. Here’s how you can create great patient experiences on WhatsApp via respond.io.
WhatsApp Healthcare: Message Through Any Channel with an Omnichannel Inbox
Respond.io's omnichannel inbox allows healthcare providers to communicate with patients on multiple messaging apps, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, LINE, Viber, and many others, so providers can reach patients on the messaging app of their choice to improve patient engagement and satisfaction.
This omnichannel inbox provides a complete consultation history for each patient, consolidating conversations across different channels. This means that providers can quickly review a patient's previous messages for context.
This includes any medical history or other relevant information before responding to their current message, ensuring patients receive personalized care that is tailored to their specific needs and circumstances.
Correctly Identify Contacts on Any Channel
Respond.io's Contact Merge feature enables the merging of duplicate contact information into a single profile. Healthcare providers use the contact merge feature to consolidate patient data and conversation histories from different channels.
This can streamline communication and reduce the risk of errors or confusion by ensuring that all relevant patient information is kept together in one place, which helps healthcare providers to provide better, more personalized care to their patients.
WhatsApp Healthcare: Automate Common Processes
When connected to respond.io, WhatsApp API makes communication between healthcare professionals and patients time-saving and efficient. Here are some ways in which you can achieve this.
WhatsApp Healthcare: Automated Appointment Booking
One of the main strengths of respond.io’s Workflows automation builder is the ability to automate appointment booking through chat automation. You can ask questions to collect and store the patient's name, contact information, appointment purpose and preferred appointment time with a Workflow.
One of the most effective ways to manage medical appointments is through calendar tools like Google Calendar or Calendly. You can integrate these with WhatsApp API via respond.io so they can be accessed during chats.
Once the patient has entered their preferred appointment time in a chat, set up an automated system to review the available appointment slots and schedule the appointment based on the patient's preferences.
WhatsApp Healthcare: Send Reminders for Doctor’s Appointments
With Zapier, you can create a Zap that sends appointment reminders to patients on WhatApp via respond.io a certain number of hours or days before their scheduled appointment. Customize the message to include details like the date, time and location of the appointment.
Set the frequency of the reminders. These are usually sent a few days before the appointment, as well as a few hours before the appointment. Similar to a WhatsApp drip campaign, use the Workflows Module to set up a message sequence over a period of time.
WhatsApp Healthcare: Answer Questions with an FAQ Menu
One of the benefits of using a WhatsApp FAQ menu is that it can provide patients with quick and easy access to information. Thus, patients can access the information they need without having to wait on hold or visit the provider's office.
A healthcare provider might set up an FAQ menu with options like "Health Tips," "Frequently Asked Questions," "Non-Urgent Medical Queries," and "Appointment Booking." When a patient sends a message to the provider's WhatsApp number, they receive an automated response that includes the menu options.
WhatsApp Healthcare: Provide Remote Consulting with Open-ended Questions
Open-ended questions are questions that allow patients to provide qualitative information in their own words. Healthcare providers can use Workflows to set up open-ended questions to collect information about patients' symptoms.
Based on the information collected through the Workflow, patients can be automatically assigned to the appropriate e-healthcare professional. While this system is valid to clear mild cases, it should only be used to gather information pre-consultations for more complex cases to have the facts in place at the start.
Integrate Existing CRMs
Integrating your CRMs on respond.io allows you to centralize patient data, reduce errors, and improve collaboration between healthcare professionals. It enables easy access to patient profiles and their medical histories, as well as sharing relevant information with teams to enhance the quality of care delivered.
This integration opens many new possibilities for healthcare businesses. For example, it can be used to conveniently retrieve data from your CRM to update Contact Fields on respond.io.
Gauge Patient Satisfaction via CSAT Surveys
CSAT surveys can provide valuable insights into patient satisfaction and areas for improvement. By analyzing the data collected from these surveys, healthcare providers can identify trends, areas of strengths and weaknesses, and make data-driven decisions to improve the patient experience.
Most importantly, CSAT Surveys prove to patients that their opinions and feedback are valued. This can lead to increased patient satisfaction and loyalty over time.
You can gauge customer satisfaction by integrating your survey software with respond.io. Build a CSAT Workflow from scratch or use a CSAT template to get started quickly. You can save the answers in Google Sheets or your data warehouse.
In conclusion, healthcare providers should consider integrating WhatsApp API as a patient communication channel. By connecting it to respond.io, they get access to advanced automation and other valuable features for the whole patient journey. To get started, sign up for a free respond.io trial or connect WhatsApp API now.
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