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Key Features of a Healthcare Messaging App For Hospitals & Doctors

As many as 22% of Gen Xers and nearly 20% of baby boomers would also prefer virtual meetings and communication over traditional visits with their doctors. Thinking it might be time to develop a messaging solution for patients visiting your hospital or clinic? Here are a handful of key features typically found in most healthcare messaging apps.‍

27 April 2022

by Crowdbotics

Instant messaging apps like Slack, Discord, and Messenger have forever changed the way people communicate at work and in their personal lives. 

Thanks to smartphones, information can be passed seamlessly from one person to another, or from one person to many people at once, faster than at any other point in history.  

Research shows that people in the U.S. tend to check their phones as much as 96 times a day. That’s about once every 10 minutes. 

In 2020 alone, there were reportedly 2.1 trillion text messages exchanged between phone users. That’s more than 50 billion more messages than the year before. 

What do these numbers mean for the healthcare industry? With so many messages being passed via phones already, is having the ability to send and receive messages with care providers something people actually want?

According to recent research, the answer is yes. 

In a 2020 consumer survey on digital health, Accenture found that “41% of Gen Z – and one-third of millennials – prefer digital encounters with physicians over in-person visits.”

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care shares data that puts the portion of millennials who would choose telemedicine over in-person care closer to 75 percent.

And they’re not alone. The same research shared by Accenture shows that as many as 22% of Gen X’ers and nearly 20% of baby boomers would also prefer virtual meetings and communication over traditional visits with their doctors. 

Thinking it might be time to develop a messaging solution for patients visiting your hospital or clinic? Here are a handful of key features typically found in most healthcare messaging apps: 

Instant Messaging

Image Credit: Getty Images

One of the most popular features being built into telehealth and telemedicine apps enables care teams and patients to instantly communicate with one another.

Instant messaging and text messaging are quickly becoming one of the most preferred ways patients want to hear from the doctor who provides care to them or their loved ones. 

One survey by DrFirst found that “the vast majority (91 percent) of 200 U.S. respondents would like the ability to communicate with their loved one’s care team via text messaging.”

For hospitals and clinics looking to boost efficiencies related to patient communication, texting and instant messaging can be a great option. 

Medical Economics shares data that helps support the idea that texting can be more effective and more efficient than other forms of patient communication. In an article on the rise of texting in healthcare, they write, “on average, where it takes four seconds to send a text message, a similar phone call can last a minimum of two minutes, often much longer. Along the same lines, the response rate for texts is 209 percent higher than it is for phone calls, and most text messages are read within 15 minutes.”

As a healthcare provider, you could use text messaging to:

Want to start offering text messaging to your patients? Work with us to build and launch your healthcare text messaging app fast. 

Voice & Video Calling

Image Credit: Pexels

Voice and video calling are two other features being incorporated into apps that can help improve communication between patients and healthcare providers.

There are numerous advantages of offering video and voice calling to your patients.

Video calls allow hospitals, nurses, and other care professionals to reach patients who otherwise wouldn’t be willing or able to make trips to physical locations. This is especially true for patients living in rural areas far from hospitals and clinics.

Earlier this year, for example, the Parkinson’s Foundation and the Columbia University Parkinson’s Disease Center of Excellence sent a survey to over 16,000 email addresses to learn if patients suffering from Parkinson’s leveraged telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, and if they did, how they felt about their experience. 

The survey found that over 80 percent of respondents utilized telehealth during the pandemic and that “More than 40% of respondents reported that video or phone telehealth services were equally or more satisfying than in-person visits across all service types.”

When asked for reasons why they felt more satisfied with telehealth appointments, respondents pointed to convenience as a driving factor. A video appointment meant they didn’t have to worry about driving in traffic, finding a parking spot, being around a lot of people, bringing a wheelchair or a walker, and employing the help of a caregiver or family member. 

Building a video calling app for your hospital or clinic can give you a competitive advantage over other options patients might be looking at in your area. 

If you don’t have an app that offers the functionality for patients to communicate with you through video or voice calls, find out what it would cost to build one this year. 

Multimedia Sharing & Uploading

Image Credit: Getty Images

Many telehealth and telemedicine apps being built today have features that give patients the ability to send doctors and nurses photos and videos as part of a virtual appointment or checkup. 

This is another feature that allows doctors to evaluate and diagnose patients without needing to meet with them in a physical space, which can ultimately save a hospital or clinic on time, money, and staff resourcing. 

Some hospitals also build apps that allow doctors, nurses, and technicians to share medical photos and other types of multimedia, like an X-ray, that they would normally review with patients during an in-person appointment. 

Interested in seeing a few examples? Take a look at CaptureProof, PocketHealth, and Teledoc

Appointment Scheduling & Reminders

Image Credit: Getty Images

A core function of any telehealth application is the ability for patients to schedule virtual or in-person appointments and receive reminders related to their care.

Mend, a patient scheduling app, says that 77 percent of patients want online appointment self-scheduling, and nearly 90 percent of patients choose a healthcare organization based on the ability to schedule or reschedule appointments on their own. 

Building an appointment scheduling system into a telehealth app can help you improve relationships with patients who want a faster, more convenient way to schedule a future visit. 

Some messaging and telehealth apps also give patients the ability to set up reminders and push notifications related to their care. This includes:

 Ready to build patient scheduling and care reminders into your healthcare app? Visit our Healthcare App Development page to tell our team what you need.  

Staff Communication & Shift Management

Image Credit: Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic put major stress on nurses and care providers in hospitals and doctors’ offices around the world. 

One study found that in 2020, before the pandemic, nurses and hospital staff were experiencing burnout at a rate of 30-40 percent. After the pandemic, the rate increased to more than 60 percent. 

To reduce burnout rates and improve staff well-being, more hospitals have been developing applications to better facilitate staff communication and better manage shifts among workers. 

Hospital staff communication apps give nurses, doctors, and administrators the ability to instantly send messages to each other throughout the day.

Some apps, like NurseGrid, also give staff members the ability to see the shift schedule, accept shifts, drop shifts, trade shifts, and request time off. 

These types of apps can be beneficial for administrators because they help reduce manual shift management and allow for better communication between hospital teams. Scheduling apps also help administrators better predict and plan for changes in staffing needs. 

Secure Data Sharing & HIPAA Compliance

Image Credit: RAW PIXELS

Secure data sharing and storage is an essential feature in any application built for hospitals, clinics, and doctors. 

Communication with patients and between team members can only happen within an app that adheres to HIPAA regulations and compliance.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the HIPAA Security Rule “establishes national standards to protect individuals’ electronic personal health information that is created, received, used, or maintained by a covered entity. The Security Rule requires appropriate administrative, physical and technical safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and security of electronic protected health information.”

To comply with HIPAA, developers of applications must also follow the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the Breach Notification Rule.

You will need to comply with HIPAA at any point where your application handles personal health information. In general, that means production systems will need to comply with HIPAA. Staging, testing, and development infrastructure that does not handle real personal health information generally do not need to comply with HIPAA. These systems shouldn’t interact with production data for security and privacy reasons. 

Need help ensuring your application complies with HIPAA? Crowdbotics has built numerous applications in the healthcare space and can give you the support you need. Visit our Software Development for Regulatory Compliance page to learn more. 

Let’s Build Your Healthcare Messaging App Together

One of the biggest benefits of working with Crowdbotics is that we can empower your developers to focus their time and energy on core areas of the business rather than on the new application you want to build. 

We hear it time and time again from our customers—they love that they can keep their IT team focused on solving current business challenges while our team unlocks new opportunities. 

Florence Healthcare had this same experience when working with us. When we reached the end of their development project together, they had this to say: 

“The AWS patching solution that Crowdbotics built has helped us clear our backlog and freed our team up to develop mission-critical features that accelerate medical research.” 

Is a lack of development resources stopping you from moving forward on building a messaging app for your hospital or clinic? Don’t wait any longer. Get started today.