With automated SMS via CALLR's API, mobile app 'Pharmao' dramatically increases SMS open rates
Who is Pharmao?
Though pharmacies try their best, it’s difficult to anticipate daily orders. This often means that people come to the pharmacy, wait in long lines, only to find that some of the items prescribed aren’t in stock – meaning they have to return later and wait all over again. In fact, in France, numbers suggest that 30% of a prescription won’t be in stock at a given pharmacy. Especially for elderly patients, long waits and repeat visits can be exhausting.
Nicolas Schweizer saw an opportunity to make this process more efficient. In 2013, he launched the mobile app ‘Pharmao.’ The idea is that users can simply take a photograph of their prescription using the app, identify their preferred pharmacy via geolocalization, and digitally send the prescription – they can even request other pharmaceutical products in the same order. The pharmacy then notifies the patient when the prescription has been filled. This means all the person has to do is make one stop to the pharmacy and pick up their entire order when it’s ready, without waiting in line.
The challenge: delivery notifications that get opened by elderly clientele
“Pharmao is all about efficiency,” explained Nicolas, CEO of Pharmao. “The whole point is to simplify visits to the pharmacy. If our app users don’t get or read our notifications that their order is ready for pick up, it defeats the purpose of the app. Effective alerts are crucial for us.”
Nicolas explained that after launching Pharmao, they tried various channels to notify their users when their orders were ready. “We tried email, but we had very low open rates at around 47%. The problem was that many of our app users are part of an older generation that don’t necessarily have an email address, or didn’t frequently check their inbox. This obviously meant they weren’t getting our alerts. We also used to use push notifications, but with similar low results – not everyone would opt-in, and we still had low open rates. We stopped using both.”
Nicolas needed a notification system that was universal, with high open rates. Through the suggestion of a friend, he discovered CALLR.
The solution: SMS API integration
“Integrating the SMS API was incredibly easy – we were done in a few hours,” explained Nicolas. “I’ve only ever had to call the support team once, and they were extremely reactive and helpful. It was a good experience.”
Today, patients who send a prescription via the app are asked to supply their phone number. Once the pharmacy processes the order, the pharmacist uses Pharmao’s web interface to make any personalized comments, then clicks a button to confirm the order is ready for pick up. This triggers an automated SMS which is sent to the patient via CALLR’s API. The text contains the name of the pharmacy they selected, when they can pick up their order, the order number, and the pharmacist’s comments.
Results: boost in open rates from 47% to 97%
After two months of use, Pharmao’s notification open rates jumped from 47% (with emails) to 97% with automated SMS sent via CALLR’s API. “We’ve absolutely seen better open rates using automated SMS than with email or push notifications,” added Nicolas. “Everything is automated thanks to the API – the only manual input is from the pharmacist in the web app, if they wish to make a personalized comment to the patient.”
Today, Pharmao is most active in France, with a presence in the Reunion and Guadeloupe. “We’re looking into expanding to the Ivory Coast, and plan to continue to use CALLR for our SMS notifications abroad,” concluded Nicolas.
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