Half of patients report that a bad digital experience with a healthcare provider ruins the entire experience with that provider. How are you stepping up to the plate?

Some healthcare businesses are taking advantage of conversational commerce options like Apple Business Chat—but only 15% of healthcare providers offer payment methods via text message. By incorporating messaging solutions into your healthcare practice, you can help transform common pain points of the patient journey into seamless interactions on the devices that patients actually prefer

To see if this is an option for your healthcare practice, read on. 


What is Apple Business Chat?

Apple Business Chat is a new way for patients to communicate with healthcare businesses via text message. The conversation starts when patients on Apple devices tap the message icon of a clinics’ listing on Siri, Search, Safari, Maps, or the participating clinic’s website or app. 

 

What can you do with Apple Business Chat? 

Patients on Apple devices can text participating healthcare clinics to schedule appointments, ask questions, resolve issues, and even complete payments. Appointments are synced with the Calendar app and payments can be made with Apple Pay. Healthcare companies can automate responses for simple requests and have people available to respond when necessary. All this to serve patients in a convenient and modern manner. 


Is it HIPAA compliant? 

While Apple Business Chat is a great option for companies looking to streamline patient care and interactions, it is not compliant with the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and thus cannot be used by your medical practice. 

 

Apple uses end-to-end encryption so that only the receiver and the sender see the message, but a cached version is stored on both devices and through Apple. Although this is considered acceptable for the average texter, HIPAA demands strict security regulations for Protected Health Information. Because data of this nature could be searched or hacked and Apple does not have a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement, protected health information cannot be legally transmitted with Apple Business Chat and should not be used by your healthcare organization.


What other options are available? 

If you are interested in the benefits of conversational commerce or customer relationship management tools, there are still plenty of options outside of Apple Business Chat. And if you want to reach the modern patient, mobile options are crucial because it’s where they spend an average of almost 5.5 hours of their day. 

 

Online scheduling

For scheduling purposes, some review sites like Zocdoc provide a HIPAA compliant way to schedule an appointment online. Other organizations include scheduling options directly through its own website, online patient portals, or by email. 

 

Text messaging

Google My Business enables messaging from the healthcare business listing on Google. Both Android and Apple users can use this option, and you can respond via text message through the Google My Business App or through email. While Google has guidelines for sensitive information, this form of messaging is still HIPAA compliant and can be used to book appointments, answer questions, and (if you choose to enable it) request quotes. 

 

Webchat

Webchat is another secure option for your patients to communicate with healthcare providers. By adding a chat widget to your website, patients can have FAQs answered, check appointment availability, and even self-assess symptoms before coming into your practice. Implementing a webchat option could save time on the phone for staff and perhaps a trip into your clinic or practice for patients. This saves time and resources for all parties involved. 

 

81% of patients are dissatisfied with their healthcare experience. Providing options like online scheduling, messaging, and webchat gives your patients prime opportunities to have positive experiences with your practice and show that you want to help in the ways that work best for them.

 

How can I implement these options?

Just because communication between patients and healthcare systems is regulated doesn’t mean it has to be complex. Whether you’re looking to incorporate texting to schedule appointments, digital payment methods, or just a secure line of communication with your patients, Podium can help you manage all of these patient interactions (and more!) on one intuitive platform.

Ready to improve patient satisfaction with HIPAA compliant digital tools? See how it all works with a free demo of Podium

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