An SMS platform, backed by clever AI, will help GPs to register high volumes of MyMedicare patients.
As MyMedicare gears up for the start of patient registration from 1 October primary health networks are looking at digital tools to recruit patients at scale.
Dr Tina Campell (PhD) is chief executive at Healthily, a health-tech company that uses SMS and AI chat bots to educate patients, and promote health programs. She said all of the PHNs she’s spoken to are very focused on providing backup for GPs initiating MyMedicare.
“PHNs are really looking at how to provide practices with a toolkit that supports them through the MyMedicare rollout. They’re asking what can they can do to support practices and what sort of funding is available to do that,” she said.
Dr Campbell said that the various PHNs she’s engaging with also recognised that practices need some back up in communicating to patients about the MyMedicare opportunity and process for registration.
“There are numerous considerations in that communication with respect to health literacy – providing patients with information that’s accessible, that’s customised, and that’s in their language is essential,” she said.
The MyMedicare program identifies patients with chronic conditions who attend hospital more than 10 times a year and connects them to a GP if they don’t have one. Patients can choose to enrol in MyMedicare which will unlock a blended funding model for the GP and their clinic and enable a new model of patient-centred care.
The administrative task of contacting and informing patients about the voluntary opportunity could be arduous, Dr Campbell said.
GoShare is Healthily’s digital solution to educating patients about MyMedicare and supporting them to register. Dr Campbell said it’s a low-tech, accessible way to receive the information and saves clinics hours of time making phone calls.
The GoShare platform sends a personalised SMS to identified patients which addresses them by name and includes the contact details of the general practice sending the text. The SMS provides link to a bundle of multimedia resources about MyMedicare and a direct link to the myGov registration page.
Patients who don’t respond are advised they’ll be given a phone call which is delivered automatically via Healthily’s sister solution GoShare Voice. The call uses AI natural language chatbots to talk through registration options with the patient in their preferred language.
“It gives the patient the opportunity to ask any questions during the conversation. Once they’re informed about the benefits or reasons they might register, it places the MyMedicare registration link right at their fingertips,” Dr Campbell said.
GoShare Voice is already being used in Western Sydney local health district to identify long covid symptoms in former covid patients. Dana Mouwad leads strategic partnerships and programs at Western Sydney LHD. She said the LHD was anticipating financial and workload efficiencies by using?GoShare Voice.
“This technology offers innovative ways of delivering at a population level,” Ms Mouwad said.
Dr Campbell said GoShare Voice builds on and complements their current GoShare solution which provides content bundles of health information to patients by email or SMS.
“That’s generally worked really well. We get really solid open rates of anywhere between 40% and 60%. However, the challenge is that not everybody is comfortable with technology. There’s a digital literacy consideration, there’s also language barriers, and literacy challenges.
“We really wanted to approach this from the point of view of access and equity; access to providing an equitable access to health information. So, we have launched GoShare Voice voice as a low-tech approach to providing information to patients about their health,” she said.
Dr Campbell said patients can opt out of communications at anytime but are provided the follow-up phone call in case they needed extra support or information in a different language.
The AI chatbot will switch to the language spoken when the person answers their phone. Healthily is currently creating natural language translations, using qualified translators – real people, for the top five most common languages in Western Sydney. Further customisation by region is available.
“So whether it’s about shingles vaccination, whether it’s about about covid vaccination, whether it’s about MyMedicare, that content bundle is packaged up to communicate with various content types, and oftentimes in multiple languages to communicate the message.
“We’ve got a lot of work going on; we currently have a pneumococcal campaign that’s just going gangbusters. We’re also working across tertiary care and emergency departments around New South Wales,” she said.
MyMedicare is one outcome from the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce. As part of MyMedicare a new General Practice in Aged Care Incentive will be introduced to improve access to GPs in residential aged care homes, according to the National Cabinet website.