LEARNING WITH WHATSAPP BEST PRACTICES FOR HEALTH:
COMMUNICATION PROTOCOLS FOR HOSPITALS AND MEDICAL CLINICS

The Learning with WhatsApp Best Practices for Health handbook aims to serve as a reference for the possible uses of WhatsApp in the healthcare system. The communication protocols in the guide were designed for hospitals and medical clinics based on formal and informal care practices observed by the author while conducting ethnographic research for 16 months in São Paulo. This is an open access not-for-profit project based on evidence stemming from academic research. If used or piloted, the protocols proposed here should be adapted to the objectives of medical professionals. The protocols would also be subject to local health regulations and other requirements.

The Learning with WhatsApp Best Practices for Health handbook is a collaboration between ESPM São Paulo, where Marilia Duque’s PhD research is based, and the Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing project, founded by the European Research Council and registered under the name ERC–2016–Adg–SmartPhoneSmartAging–740472. (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/anthropology/assa/). The translation of this handbook from Portuguese into English was fully funded by the ERC. Available for free download.

 

How to quote:

DUQUE, Marília. Learning from WhatsApp Best Practices for Health: Communication Protocols for Hospitals and Medical Clinics. Marília Duque. London: ASSA, 2020. 151 pages. ISBN:  978-1-8380069-0-7 (eBook)

WhatsApp can be used as a support tool for healthcare communication, with protocols enabling the interface to be used among and between patients, healthcare professionals, careers and family members. This handbook explores how the app’s basic features can be used by the healthcare ecosystem, aiding remote care and making it more efficient in terms of money and time in addition to improving the quality of life of patients. The protocols are divided into modules, including routine patient communication and triage, remote healthcare, proactive health management, and education processes. Modules can be implemented independently. Each module brings together all of the WhatsApp features mapped around its purpose. The implementation of the protocols should be evaluated by competent professionals, who are fully responsible for its progress and results.

FIRTS STEPS

• Preparing staff and assigning roles
• Instructions on how to set up a hospital or medical clinic WhatsApp account
• Instructions on how to set up a hospital or medical clinic on WhatsApp web
• Chat rules and safety tips

PROTOCOLS FOR BASIC COMMUNICATION ROUTINES BETWEEN HOSPITAL OR MEDICAL CLINIC AND PATIENTS USING WHATSAPP

• Protocols for scheduling, confirming, canceling and rescheduling appointments and return appointments
• Protocols for medical prescription renewal for long-term medication
• Protocols for scheduling medical tests, and picking up and sending medical test results

PROTOCOLS FOR REMOTE MEDICAL CARE USING WHATSAPP

Triage
We present useful protocols for triage conducted by nursing professionals through a direct link to the patient via WhatsApp, in order to listen to the patient’s demands and decide on the care protocol to be followed.
Medical Care – Level I with nursing professional in charge
Protocols for medical care given directly by the nursing professional.
Medical Care – Level II with Doctor in charge
Protocols for medical care involving the nursing professional and the doctor in charge for care.
Medical Care – Level II with Healthcare Team
Protocols for medical care involving the nursing professional and medical staff responsible for care.
Medical Care – Level III
Protocol for referrals for emergency care (via a doctor’s appointment, or the emergency room) in cases of emergency.

PROTOCOLS FOR STRATEGIC HEALTH MANAGEMENT AND PATIENT EDUCATION USING WHATSAPP

In this section, we present protocols aimed at hospitals and medical clinics that want to play a proactive role in their patients’ care by using WhatsApp for patient information, awareness and education.
• Sending information and instructions to the patient
• Managing the scheduling of medical care and preventive routines
• Updates on the patient’s state of health
• WhatsApp as an educational channel
• WhatsApp for support groups

This material is the result of not-for-profit academic research. WhatsApp is neither responsible for nor can it attest to the validity or effectiveness of any protocol gathered in this material. Protocols are records of third-party uses observed in the health ecosystem during this research.

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