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How Digitalization Transformed the Healthcare Industry

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and drastically changed the way companies in all sectors and regions do business – including healthcare where the reliance on face-to-face communications and appointments has reduced significantly. 

The advent of the Covid crisis emphasized the need for a much more risk-averse end-to-end digital strategy to fit with the new reality facing healthcare professionals and patients. Clinicians have had to restrict the types of patient and treatments leading to over a 50% decrease in appointments with revenues impacted too.

Services like a Virtual Waiting Room launched by Infobip and Dataphiles, for their dental software brand Patient Comms, at the beginning of the pandemic digitally transformed the healthcare sector by introducing new efficiencies, so patients still get excellent care while ensuring surgeries stay viable. This has, in the course of time, made the contactless patient journey the new normal.

The need for digital transformation in healthcare

The last year has seen conversations around digital transformation accelerate. In theory, digital transformation is a wide topic and means different things to different people. Weighing in on the topic, Karl Johns, Senior Sales Manager, UK said: “For me, whether you look at it from a business or consumer perspective, it offers choice through innovation. So, from a business perspective, it enables you to enhance data points to see a complete view of the customer journey. And from a consumer perspective, it offers them a choice of multiple points of contact through innovative channels such as WhatsApp, SMS, or live chat.”

With in-person contact vastly reduced, digitalization has enabled doctors and nurses to connect and communicate with patients remotely, without sacrificing on a positive patient experience. This digital transformation in healthcare has reduced the laborious task of spending time trying to call your GP, filling in lengthy forms, and sitting in a crowded waiting room. It has proved that healthcare can be as efficient as other industries, with the right technology in place. 

Similarly, PatientComms leveraged frictionless integration with patient and practice management systems allowing practitioners to create and send health-related messages, reminders, recalls and alerts to patients, and collect post treatment feedback.

Streamlined services like this help solve bottleneck challenges and reduce administration. So, when a patient registers online at a dental practitioner, the dentist automatically receives the medical history, ensuring time isn’t wasted during the appointment, and reduced the paperwork.

As Kieran Bentham, managing director at Dataphiles adds: “For me it’s about removing paper from the equation, and those heavily paper based processes. It’s about replacing those and any unnecessary face to face touchpoints with a technology solution. In our sector it’s been quite slow to get started, but the COVID pandemic has really accelerated that. I think all of us have had to manage our lives online because there just wasn’t anybody to answer the phone. So certainly, in the dentistry sector, that digital transformation is really starting to gather pace. And I think, PatientComms and Infobip are well placed to meet the needs of that transformation piece.”

The opportunities brough about by digital transformation

Although the pandemic has forced digitalization, it has marked a watershed moment for healthcare providers; embracing automation brings bonuses in terms of shortened wait times, reduced administration and streamlined communications. And this had led to opportunities for companies to scale.

Keiran adds: “Building on the digital transformation point, there’s a realization that patient engagement solutions in software are really important, and we’re well-placed to benefit from that. So, I think our biggest opportunity is growth, and we’re seeing that we’re on a growth journey, but that also brings about a challenge. 

So, one part of that which really helps us with is, like most companies, we’re struggling for talent, struggling to find really good developers because there’s a shortage. The fact that we can utilize the technology means that we can bring new features to market really quickly without having to have those people in place. And that’s one of the main benefits of working with somebody like Infobip.”

The digital transformation journey with Infobip

Expanding on the virtual waiting room that was launched by PatientComms and Infobip at the beginning of the pandemic, together they have digitally transformed the approach to patient communications by using our entire SaaS portfolio to streamline patient communications.

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Highlighting the journey, Karl said: “Firstly, Infobip is a cloud communications provider. We provide solutions enabling businesses to simplify the complexity of their customer journeys and communications. This, in turn, means that they can not only simplify that complexity, but increase their retention, customer engagement and improve their overall customer experience. When it comes to the partnership with PatientComms, we’ve been working together for some years, building disruptive communication propositions to take out to the dental sector.”

In addition, to SMS and Email, our chatbot building platform Answers is also being used to empower dental practices to communicate with patients via sophisticated automation. Inbound enquires on dental treatments, practice information and opening hours are now all managed via a chatbot on the practice’s website and handed to a customer service representative when needed. This brings a new level of speed and availability to customer service, ensuring patients have access to more straightforward information without having to call or visit the practice.

Kieran said: “There are four real areas that made it an easy choice to go with Infobip. The first one is the biggest communication provider in the world, and we know that as we can grow as fast as we want to, and they’ll be able to meet our needs going forward and also allows us to move into other territories really easily because of their international reach.

The other thing is the quality of their service, reliability, and security. We deal with patient data. So, our customers are very aware of the need to have that security in place. And working with Infobip allows us to demonstrate that the other thing they’re really good at is customer service. And I know that if I’ve got an issue or a question, I can go to our account manager and that will get resolved really quickly. And finally, the suite of SaaS products allows us to launch new features really quickly to the market without having to do the development work ourselves, which when the technology is moving at such a fast pace, is really important.”

Security and compliance

To demonstrate the maturity of our data privacy and security program, our HIPAA attestation shows we meet the needs of the customers protection.

HIPAA – or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – is a United States law enacted in 1996 to ensure increased portability of health insurance for workers and to streamline the management of healthcare information. 

Aurora Volarović, VP Public Affairs at Infobip said: “The importance of the healthcare industry to a society’s wellbeing cannot be overstated. Numerous studies have shown that better communication with patients can significantly improve patient outcomes. Infobip feels it has a duty to be part of a solution that helps improve people’s lives. Our whole business ethos revolves around creating seamless trusted connections between people and the businesses that deliver services to them.”

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