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News

Text messaging system cuts missed appointments by 27 percent

IPLATO : 29 August, 2007  (New Product)
Following one of the first population-wide deployments of text messaging services, GP surgeries across Lewisham Primary Care Trust in South London, have reduced missed appointments by 27 percent during the last year.
The reduction has been attributed to surgeries using iPLATO Patient Care Messaging, the leading platform for text appointment reminders and other mobile patient services in UK primary care.

In order to receive the service, patients register their mobile phone number at their surgery in order to receive appointment reminders and health information direct to their mobile phones.

From modest beginnings, the service now reaches 43 percent of the population covered by the participating GP surgeries. As a result, the mobile channel has now become the key electronic channel for patient interaction throughout the area.

The service has proven to be hugely popular among patients as indicated by a 50 percent increase in PCT-wide text volumes over the last 12 month period.

Introduced to help reduce the high level of missed appointments and to create an effective channel of communication between patients, the PCT chose to subsidise the installation and the cost of text messages for the surgeries. Marie Searle, practice manager at Honor Oak Practice, an experienced user of the system said, 'We have an ethnically and socially very diverse population in Lewisham. A vast majority of patients already use their mobile phone to run their daily lives and our experience of using this system from both the staff and patients' perspective has been very positive.'

Tobias Alpsten, managing director of iPLATO, said: 'Using modern technology to communicate with over 100,000 residents across the locality, Lewisham PCT has shown how to achieve radically improved access and health promotion across a significant part of their population. The visible service improvement for patients, along with proven efficiency savings and a smooth launch process make this a huge achievement, especially under the financial restrictions of the last NHS financial year. We are obviously thrilled to work with Lewisham PCT and the practices to further develop their mobile patient services over the coming months and years. We also hope to achieve similar results with other PCTs because, if rolled out throughout the NHS in England, we could save over 2.7 million GP appointments and 1.3 million Practice Nurse appointments per year by simply replicating our success in Lewisham.'
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