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City & Hackney GPs stay in touch with smokers by text message

IPLATO : 14 August, 2007  (New Product)
City and Hackney Primary Care Trust has partnered iPLATO and seven local GP surgeries to pilot the use of text messaging services to reduce the prevalence of smoking in the borough.
Supported by the PCT, GP surgeries will use iPLATO's platform, Patient Care Messaging integrated to their GP system, to engage directly with patients around smoking status updates, invitation to stop smoking clinics, on-going quit support and follow-ups.

With smoking prevalence in City & Hackney touching 34 percent - significantly higher than the national average of 27.5 percent - it is paramount for the PCT to try new ways of engaging with smokers with a view to, over time, reduce the rate of smoking and associated long term costs for hospitalisation.

By engaging directly with smokers through their mobile phones rather than the traditional method of broadcasting population-wide messages via posters or adverts, the PCT expects to significantly and cost effectively increase the number of people seeking support from the quit smoking services and, therefore, the number of smokers kicking the habit.

Sima Chaudhury, City and Hackney tPCT health improvement practitioner, Tobacco Control, said, 'We chose to partner with iPLATO because the technology has proven to be successful. We are very committed to helping smokers quit, and pleased to offer this additional support to our surgeries to expand and accelerate their efforts.'

City and Hackneys strategy is to reduce smoking prevalence, paying particular attention to achieving a reduction in those groups most at risk (unemployed people, manual social classes, pregnant women, younger people and specific communities with high prevalence).

Text messaging is perfect means of uniformly addressing a population across different socio-economic strata. The democratic nature of the channel means that ownership of mobile phones and the use of text messaging is evenly spread across these groups.

Tobias Alpsten, managing director of iPLATO said, 'City and Hackney just as many smoking cessation teams around the country provide good service to smokers who contact them. The main weakness of the traditional system is that the services are not particularly well promoted. By using iPLATO's unique platform combined with our experience in mobile health promotion services we will help improve data accuracy on the GP systems, referral rates and, as a result, significantly increase the overall number of quitters. This concept is applicable nationally and internationally. It can also be used in other areas of public health such as obesity, mental health and immunisation.'

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