Launched in 2009, WhatsApp gained strength in Brazil in mid-2012 and since then the number of users has been increasing more and more. Currently, several companies are already using the app to exchange messages with customers and suppliers, and in the health area, it could not be different.
In the same way that telephone calls were replaced by Skype, the exchange of messages via SMS became obsolete with the popularization of WhatsApp. With the app it is also possible to send voice messages and make calls at no cost. But after all, is using WhatsApp to communicate with patients right or wrong? The answer is: it depends on the purpose.
In clinics WhatsApp can be extremely important as it speeds up work at reception. Many people do not like talking on the phone and not even waiting in call centers, so in that sense the patient can feel more comfortable to schedule an appointment by sending a message through the app.
Regarding the reception of the clinic, WhatsApp can also be used to confirm appointments. In the medical software Ninsaúde Apolo, for example, there is a feature where messages are sent with a link through which the patient can answer whether he will attend the consultation or not, and from his reply the status automatically updates in the agenda.
Besides, the app can be used for other purposes such as, for example, information and news about the clinic, birthday congratulations, Christmas messages, among others.
WhatsApp in the doctor x patient relationship
In Brazil, about 87% of doctors use WhatsApp to communicate with their patients, which according to the CFM (Federal Council of Medicine) is not a prohibited practice as long as it is used correctly. Before the arrival of the app, many health professionals already communicated with patients through SMS messages, and even by telephone calls, especially in the case of pediatricians.
This practice can maintain the bond between doctor and patient and establish a relationship of closeness and trust, however, sending messages through the application creates an emergency where there is the possibility that the patient does not understand that the doctor will not always be available to respond on the spot, in addition to the fact that certain information should only be passed on in person.
Another point to highlight is the invasion of privacy that can occur in certain cases. Therefore, the most correct thing is to have a number just to establish contact with the patient, depriving your particular number of possible situations that may occur, such as calls at inopportune times or weekends, and even sending chains.
When agreeing to establish contact with patients via WhatsApp, make it clear that it will not be available full time and that the app should only be used to clear up specific doubts, as some information may be lost or confused during the distance conversation.