Ealing Primary Care Trust has announced that patients across its 22 surgeries will soon receive GP appointment reminders and health information by SMS text messages on their mobile phones, making it the largest scheme in UK primary care.
It will utilise the Orange mobile network and iPLATO Patient Care Messaging service, which assures confidentiality and security across a multi-lingual and ethnically diverse population.
Working in conjunction with existing patient booking systems, the plan is that it will free up time currently spent contacting patients and so provide a better overall care service.
It’s also believed that important health information, for example about the flu jab, has a better response rate when sent by text.
For a National Health Service strapped for cash, another advantage is that it could save over £240m per year if adopted across England.
Keith Martin, Service Development Manager at Ealing PCT, said, “Mobile patient services have proven that they are cost effective and scalable and are, therefore, the way forward in Ealing. We have a diverse population of 360,000 patients registered with GPs in the borough and many already use mobiles to run their daily lives. Ealing PCT chose iPLATO for its long experience in UK primary care. Patient Care Messaging is functional and secure. It improves service without adding extra work for healthcare staff and integrates seamlessly with existing systems used by GPs to book appointments and clinics.”
It follows news earlier in the month that the Royal Free Hospital is using SMS messaging for confidential appointments.