Mobile services can make a huge difference in a person's life and nowhere is that more evident than in healthcare. Mobile devices can literally mean the difference between life and death and can significantly improve patients' quality of life, as well as help disseminate important public health information.
SMS remains one of the key communication channels in m-health, crucial in delivering relevant information to patients and for receiving important feedback from them. When trying to reach the largest demographic possible, no communication channel matches SMS – supported by all types of mobile phones and requiring a basic, 2G mobile connection.
Global telecoms group Vodafone recently announced two m-health partnerships in Africa, the SMS hotbed of the world, where text messages will be used alongside mobile software for physicians to gather and disseminate vaccination information. The projects aim to increase vaccination rates and raise awareness of its importance, as well as availability.
While such uses of SMS fall into the domain of public health, it can be used with great success on a smaller scale as a tool for increasing performance and optimising costs. Reminding patients of upcoming appointments significantly reduces no-shows and related administrative costs, but also relieves medical staff and gives them more time with patients.
Healthcare industry can use SMS as a marketing tool, promoting clinics, physicians or insurance providers. Another segment that can greatly benefit from SMS is clinical trials, where contract research organisations need to keep contact with doctors, who in turn interact with patients in the trial. Here, SMS helps communication by making it simple and centralised, as well as cost-effective.
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