At first glance, the benefits of SMS marketing to GPs and other local healthcare providers may not seem obvious. However there are many. For example, consider how often a patient failed to come in for an appointment or simply got the date wrong? It’s an irritation, certainly and rescheduling is an inconvenience; one that simply makes waiting times longer and costs higher.
Fortunately, with today’s technological innovations, such problems can be significantly reduced. Across the country, thousands of surgeries are making use of text messages to quickly and easily communicate with patients; minimising the number of wasted appointments.
SMS is simple to use and as so many people are never far from their phones, you can almost guarantee that your message will be received, read and taken notice of.
Here are a few ways in which SMS can be used to great effect by GPs and healthcare providers:
Booking service and appointment reminders
Text messages are an effective way to prompt patients to make an appointment, in the event that regular check-ups are required. It saves the time and money associated with sending out letters or making phone calls. What’s more, the system can be configured to send texts to specific groups at the touch of a button; what could be easier? Plus, nearer the date of the appointment, a follow-up reminder text can be sent automatically; helping to mitigate the number of no-shows. The addition of your surgery’s phone number will encourage those who need to cancel to do so, enabling you to see another patient instead.
As mentioned above, because so many people keep their mobile phones to hand, sending an SMS is a great way to inform people of certain events. These might include garnering support for the monthly blood donation drive, advising new mothers of an NCT clothes sale or advising patients that it is flu inoculation season. By sending texts, you can not only attract greater numbers by raising awareness but also pre-empt hundreds of telephone enquiries. It is a tool that makes your surgery seem professional and proactive, too – which can’t hurt.
How many anxious phone calls has your practice received over the years with regard to the health epidemic of the moment? Worse still, how many patients have made appointments thinking they have contracted said epidemics, taking up valuable slots that could have been used by people who were truly ill and not simply suffering from a cold? One of the great benefits of SMS is that it can be used to alert people about such matters. Take Norovirus, for example. People are advised not to visit their doctor for fear of spreading the infection further. A text message can relay this information quickly; informing patients of the correct procedures and reducing any further health risks.
Compare the amount of time and money it costs to call or write to patients, with simply texting them. Actually, there is no comparison. SMS allows you to contact patients directly and schedule appointments far more effectively. This presents all of the medical staff with more time and perhaps a little extra in the budget, both of which can be put towards more pressing matters.
Ultimately, SMS is convenient, provides cost savings and reduces the number of wasted appointments that a practice might encounter. With people always on the go, many don’t have time to stop and call their doctor – so it’s not only good for the practice, but for the patients, too. The easier you can make it for them to make or cancel appointments, the more smoothly your operation will run.