19th April 2024.

Building and maintaining trust in communications with patients is crucial for NHS organisations in today’s digital landscape. With the rise of cybercrime attempts, many of which target vulnerable individuals, patients are understandably suspicious and choosing to ignore legitimate messages about their care which may delay their treatment and poorly effect outcomes. Because of this, the security of your communication channels is more important than ever.

One of the most common and dangerous forms of cyber crime

An Office for National Statistics report revealed that UK organisations have experienced a 57% increase in “consumer and retail fraud” compared to pre-pandemic levels, and UK Cyber Crime statistics show phishing scams are the most common type of cyber-attack, experienced in 84% of all incidents.

In phishing and impersonation schemes, perpetrators masquerade as legitimate entities such as healthcare organisations to trick recipients into divulging sensitive personal data or financial details digitally. For instance, fraudulent text messages or emails posing as official correspondence from a hospital may request patients to click on malicious links or provide login credentials under false pretences.

To tackle this, staff and patient awareness is paramount in protecting against these threats, ensuring that confidentiality and safety remain uncompromised in patient-NHS interactions. One effective solution lies in leveraging digital branded messaging platforms for appointment communications and other correspondence, offering both patients and NHS organisations numerous benefits.

Moving on from untrustworthy methods of communication

Branded Messaging is the latest evolution of SMS, with a host of features focused on reassuring people that their communications are reliable by giving a clear sender identity. It delivers a richer user experience that is easily distinguishable and secure, enabling patients to instantly recognise exactly who is contacting them by their logo, name and tagline, and a verification tick for good measure.

Innovative new channels such as Rich Communication Services (RCS) can also help provide patients with a sense of assurance. Unlike unreliable, traditional methods such as postal letters or unverified emails, RCS offers end-to-end encryption and authentication features to safeguard sensitive patient information from falling into the wrong hands.

This added layer of security is crucial in an era where cyber threats pose significant risks to personal data and privacy and it is essential to comply with standards outlined in the Data Security and Protection Toolkit. By implementing robust authentication measures and leveraging trusted channels, you can effectively shield patient from fraudulent activities and the fear that goes along with them.

Applying best practice from other industries

To underscore the importance of trustworthy digital communication channels, we can draw insights from other industries such as banking, who face an ongoing battle against the exponential increase in online fraud and cybercrime whilst aiming to meet customer expectations. According to UK Finance, £76.1 million was stolen through impersonation scams in the first six months of last year, while £580 million was stolen in total through unauthorised and authorised fraud in the same period.

Adopting secure and verified digital communications is proving to be a pivotal step in combatting phishing and impersonations. In 2022, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) urged organisations to ‘scam-proof’ their messages to members of the public, with guidance on how to create authentic communications including adopting a verified SenderID. Digital communications marked with identifiable branding instil confidence among consumers, allowing them to discern legitimate correspondence from fraudulent attempts.

UK banks have been increasingly embracing these digital strategies for customer communication to tackle this issue, citing improved confidence, protection, and customer experience as key drivers. According to a study by UK Finance, digital banking fraud losses fell by 33%, attributed in part to enhanced security measures and increased customer awareness of digital threats, such as the Take 5 initiative. Educational campaigns to raise awareness among customers about the risks of phishing and impersonation scams that provide guidance on how to recognise and report suspicious communications are another essential tool in alleviating people’s concerns over fraud.

Delivering peace of mind to your patient’s pocket

The benefits of sending verified and branded messages extend beyond security to include efficiency and convenience, with reminders and other appointment management communications delivered directly to patients’ mobile devices so they can access anywhere, alongside the assurance that they can be trusted. These messages display your brand identity to enforce instant recognition among patients with a name, a logo and a tick that is generated through your organisations verified profile.

With authenticated messages, healthcare organisations can significantly reduce the risk of missed appointments at a time when every slot is precious, whilst improving outcomes and optimising resource utilisation within the NHS. Additionally, digital messaging allows for personalised and timely communication to enhance the patient experience and provides delivery/read receipts so organisations can easily keep track.

Building confidence in digital channels

By adopting modern tools for communication, organisations can demonstrate their dedication to meeting patients’ evolving needs while ensuring the highest standards of security and confidentiality. The exciting and interactive capabilities of new messaging channels enable seamless communication between care teams and patients, fostering greater engagement and efficiency in care delivery.

RCS offers advanced messaging features that go much further than traditional SMS, including imagery, videos, live location maps and more. You can also share scrollable carousels of up to 10 rich messaging cards that combine image, video, text, and links. These cards can be used in a number of creative ways for healthcare, such as options for appointment dates and times, or consultation types, in order to create a more satisfactory interaction.

Securing patient trust for future-proof digital health

Ensuring patient confidence with digital branded messaging offers numerous benefits for both patients and the NHS alike. By providing a verified, safe, and easy-to-use communication platform, we can reassure patients, encourage engagement in digital channels, and ultimately improve the overall experience. As scams and phishing attempts continue to proliferate, embracing digital messaging is not just a matter of convenience but a crucial step towards safeguarding patient information and maintaining trust in our healthcare system.

 

Get in touch today! We can support your organisation to make the switch and take your messaging from unidentifiable to scam-proof, helping you to provide a trusted brand experience with an automatic fall back to standard SMS for patients whose device is not enabled to receive them.