The Healthtech Hunt: Hero Health vs iPlato

In this article, we look at Hero Health and iPlato, comparing functionality across a range of features including patient messaging, appointment booking and appointment reminders.

What’s it all about

In this series so far, we’ve taken on Accurx and Swiftqueue. As major providers of online booking and patient messaging for primary and secondary care in the NHS, we’ve not shied away from competition.  

And this isn’t going to change with our third episode.  

IPlato, perhaps the most established patient messaging provider in the NHS, is up next. If you’ve not heard of iPlato before, then I’ve done you the courtesy of asking our newest friend ChatGPT to give you a brief summary:

iPlato is a digital health company that provides mobile health solutions to help healthcare providers engage with patients and deliver better care. Their platform includes a range of tools such as messaging, appointment booking, medication reminders, and remote monitoring to support patient care and improve health outcomes. iPlato's solutions are designed to be user-friendly and accessible, with a focus on improving patient engagement and promoting self-management of health conditions. Overall, iPlato aims to transform healthcare delivery by harnessing the power of technology to improve patient experiences and outcomes.

Sounds great right? Well...what about Hero?

Hero Health is an online appointment scheduling software designed to delight patients and improve administrative efficiencies within your practice. Their platform includes a range of tools such as patient messaging, appointment booking and reminders, online booking and cross-organisational booking. Hero Health’s solutions are designed to be user friendly and accessible, with a focus on reducing the workload for admins and improving patient experience. Overall, Hero Health aims to transform healthcare delivery by harnessing the power of technology to improve patient experiences and outcomes.

As you can see, ChatGPT can’t seem to really distinguish between them. Which is why, as always, we’ll have to dig deeper. Continue reading to really learn how the two differ and which solution would be best positioned for you.

Hero Health vs iPlato: The overview

If you haven’t gauged already, iPlato is best known for its messaging.  

Having been in the market for over 15 years, iPlato have developed one of the most comprehensive messaging tools for the NHS, enabling practitioners, administrators and patients to communicate. Built with a function-first mindset, iPlato allows practitioners to attach files to their messages and subsequently code responses back into the clinical record.  

This is critical for those working in primary care, as clinicians can then view patients' responses during clinics and subsequently ensure the most effective healthcare.

Hero Health is more multi-dimensional than iPlato, since they offer several different product features, most notable being the functionality to schedule appointments within their messaging solution.

However, Hero Health don’t mess about when it comes to messaging either. Our product is full of rich messaging features, designed to improve administrative and patient experience when scheduling an appointment. Hero also includes SNOMED coding for first, second and third sent messages, meaning that you won’t need to manually code responses.  

Single vs Batch

In the world of the batch message, a messaging provider not offering this functionality is going to find it hard to compete, especially when October comes round, and practices are inviting patients en-masse to attend flu vaccinations. And the importance of this has only been compounded further by the need for mass covid vaccination clinics.

Luckily, both Hero Health and iPlato offer excellent batch messaging solutions designed to reduce admin workload, save time and subsequently money.  

The first important questions when it comes to batch messaging is ‘how do I upload the patients?’. Well, I can’t speak for iPlato, but at Hero Health it’s as simple as:

How it works

Pull a CSV list of patients from EMIS

Upload them into Hero via the click of a button

Compose your message and attach your invite link

Press send

Happy patients!

It really is as simple as that. Those five steps could save your practice staff hundreds of hours of phone calls, manual rescheduling (yes, did we mention Hero does online cancellations and rescheduling too?!).

What are the benefits?

It’s easy to see all of the luscious features offered by both providers but still be thinking - ‘what’s the benefit??’. Well, let’s break it down. Assuming you’re a primary care provider, I imagine you fall into one of these categories: GP Practice or other (other includes PCNs, Federations and ICBs).

Well, if this is the case (which I’m sure it is) I'll break the benefits down at each level for you to really see where you can improve existing work standards.  

At a practice level, both Hero Health and iPlato will reduce administrative workload significantly. Their rich messaging features allow patients to be contacted by the hundreds, meaning that outreach no longer needs to be via the phone. This will also improve staff satisfaction, enabling practice managers and admins to focus on more critical tasks.

However, Hero Health goes one step further in improving admin efficiencies and reducing workload. Their messaging feature is supported by a best-in-class online booking solution that reduces workload even further. With iPlato patients may receive a text but still need to call the practice in order to book an appointment. With Hero, the message includes a booking link for that specific appointment, meaning that the whole process is done digitally.

For other organisations such as PCNs, Federations and ICBs, the benefits are similar. The batch messaging features allow PCNs to reach out to large numbers of patients and is especially useful for scheduling appointments that have a monetary value, such as IIF. Additionally, the appointment reminders for both Hero Health and mJog have been proven to reduce DNAs, something that PCNs are keeping front of mind, especially with the newest Network DES coming into play.  

However, Hero Health pips iPlato to the spot again here, as its online booking functionality can be used to manage enhanced access appointments. PCNs can list enhanced access appointments on their website or practice websites and allow patients to book themselves directly into the PCN EMIS diary. Practices can also invite their own patients to book directly into a PCN diary using the Hero ‘Networks’ features.  

How much are SMS Costs?

Arguably the question we get asked most frequently, the cost of the SMS has become the elephant in the room (and the elephant in dispute) amongst primary care providers. One ICB noted that they were spending over a million pounds a year on SMS costs, so it comes as no surprise this will be a significant factor when deciding which messaging provider to opt for.

The good news is that every provider, from AccurX to mJog, to Hero to iPlato, all have to play by the rules. This means that at a base level, every SMS is priced at ~1.75p. Some lucky PCNs will receive funding from their ICB, meaning that they don’t have to front the exact cost, but this is rare, and is not industry standard.

Hero Health use two providers for their SMS: Firetext and Twillio. This enables you to be flexible and increase the likelihood that we can integrate with your existing provider (as these are the most common).  

We can either integrate with existing accounts or set you up with your own account, so that you manage the SMS delivery and payments yourself.

The verdict:

Hopefully you’ll have realised that there are some stark differences between Hero Health and iPlato

If you’re looking for a messaging solution, and nothing more, then look no further than iPlato. They have been in the messaging game for years and most Healthtech providers in primary and secondary care would struggle to compete. However, this is also their limitation; having been so focused on messaging, they haven’t been able to build out functionality for online booking. With the way things are looking for primary care in the coming years, it wouldn’t be surprising if they began building out their online booking functionality. But then again, they’ll be years behind the major players.

If you’re looking for an online booking solution for the NHS, then Hero Health is your go to provider. Their multi-functional solution enables practices to schedule patients with ease, offering unique online booking that can be patient or admin led. And on top off all that booking functionality, Hero Health has an excellent messaging solution built into it. You can send individual or bulk messages to patients, attach forms and files from EMIS and soon these messages will SNOMED code to the record.  

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