SMS in the Medical World: Keeping Patients Informed

23 July 2012

There are already many uses for text messaging services across a variety of different industries, and companies are beginning to adapt them into a range of effective campaigns. One particular example of an area where SMS services are beginning to be used quite widely is within the medical industry. Here, message systems are fast becoming a reliable way of communicating certain information between the health centre and the patient. Below is a list of some of the uses for SMS services in the medical profession and the advantages that they can bring in place of the more traditional forms of communications with patients.

1. Automated reminder services:

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Instead of receiving a confirmation letter/appointment card from the surgery, or booking the appointment over the phone, patients can be given an appointment confirmation and reminders via text message. This eradicates the need to keep paper versions of the booking stored away which are likely to get lost or damaged, especially if the appointment is quite far in the future. Most people are also more likely to check their mobile phones for messages containing reminders than to actively remember to check their calendar or diary. This reminder service is also advantageous to both parties. Patients will be prompted to attend their appointments while surgeries are likely to have less last-minute cancellations and no-shows due to forgotten appointments.

Another example of a helpful reminder service is an SMS prompt to help patients to remember their repeat prescriptions. This is especially helpful for prescriptions such as medication for a long-term illness, or treatment supplies needed in advance of a district nurse’s home visit. Failure to pick up these prescriptions, or a delay in doing so, could have a serious impact on the persons involved.

2. Information requests:

This service can provide patients that have requested particular information with the details they need quickly and conveniently. This information could range from surgery opening hours to important advice for travellers regarding necessary vaccinations for foreign diseases such as malaria.

3. Test results:

Another use for SMS in the medical industry is to relay test results to patients. This service is already in active use for relaying results to young people from STD tests. Many feel that this service is a much more effective way to relay potentially sensitive and embarrassing results rather than other means such as over the phone, which could be overheard by others.

There are many more uses for SMS services in the medical world that are still in the process of being created and improved upon. It is clear to see that this service provides a handy shortcut for providing patients with the information that they need in a convenient and helpful format.

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