I love my smart phone. A lot. Besides using it to make phone calls and send text messages, I use my phone for numerous other things. I use it to check my e-mail, browse the web, check my Facebook account, play games, keep track of my calendar, manage my to do list, jot down notes, as a GPS, as an iPod, and as my camera. I always have it on me, and I find it extremely useful.I recently read that 93 percent of the US population owns a cell phone . I also read that 28 percent of Americans own a smart phone. Wow! That’s a huge number of people who have access to the Internet and all of their social media accounts at their fingertips.
Because cell phones are so widely spread, it’s an incredible opportunity for health care providers. I know that I am not the only one who is constantly glued to her cell phone. It’s a marketing tool that can directly (and quickly) reach customers.
There are two main ways hospitals can utilize smart phones. The first is through a smart phone app. There are numerous smart apps on the market,. I recently discovered an app called iTriage. It allows you to find medical treatment and a doctor near you, look up health symptoms, research diseases, learn about procedures and even keep your very own health record. It could be especially useful for individuals who are new to their area and want to find a local hospital or clinic.
The second is through text messaging. Because text messaging is so popular, take advantage of that to contact your patients. One doctor in New York decided to take advantage of her teenage patient’s obsession with text messaging and sent them reminders about their insulin treatments. It turns out she was on to something. After three months her patients were three times less likely to miss a treatment. There are other ways to utilize text messages. It is just a matter of identifying how text messages can benefit patients, and then working them into your overall social media strategy. After all, if Google can send users text message appointment reminders it could be possible for your hospital.
As great as these ideas are, I have to stress that you should only implement smart phones into your plan if it fits into your marketing strategy. Because even though text message appointment reminders may be a good idea, if it isn’t part of your overall plan, it won’t be a practical idea.