Background and importance Faced with the lockdown caused by COVID-19 since March 2020, we have been reorganising the external patient department to get medicines to our patients. But how do we notify them that their medication is on its way? How do they send us delivery confirmation, without wasting a lot of time and protecting their data online?
Aim and objectives To analyse the effectiveness of the use of a professional instant messaging application to confirm medication delivery to our patients or to their family members, always ensuring the protection of their data.
Material and methods A prospective study was conducted of all patients who were sent that medication. This study was done with WhatsApp Business between July and September 2020. All patients gave us prior verbal consent to participate in this study. Data collected were: number of shipments, age, sex and number of patients, number and type of sent messages with the app, number of confirmations or incident responses by patients with the app and time saved compared with phone calls.
Results A total of 190 medication shipments were made to 98 patients (60% men) with a median age of 57 (32–89) years. 354 instant messages were sent to 79 patients (80.6%), of which 177 (50%) were shipment notifications and 177 (50%) were a simple yes/no question to confirm the correct pickup. Referring to these last 177 messages, we received 122 replies from 63 patients (64.3%), of which 119 (94.3%) were correct delivery confirmations and 3 (5.7%) were incidents (which were resolved as soon as possible). The system warned us that 19 (19.4%) patients had not received the messages because neither they nor their family members had the necessary app installed on their mobile phones. Assuming an average of 3 min per phone call to confirm delivery of medication, we saved 357 min (3×119 confirmation responses) because of instant messaging.
Conclusion and relevance This method of instant messaging online was a fast, free and secure way to notify and confirm the correct delivery of medication or to detect any delivery incidents. A possible limitation is that some elderly patients do not have this app installed on their mobile phones or they do not know how to use it.
Conflict of interest No conflict of interest
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