A primary care trust is hoping to reduce missed GP practice appointments by 25% in a year with the aid of a text messaging service.
Lewisham PCT has signed a deal with mobile healthcare applications specialist iPlato to use its Patient Care Messaging solution for patients at seven surgeries across the trust.
Patients will be able to access the service by registering at their practice and will then receive appointments reminders and health information by mobile phone.
Simon Gosney, minor illness service improvement facilitator at Lewisham PCT, said the aim was to reduce missed appointment by 25% in 12 months and get as many patients as possible onto the system as quickly as possible.
He added: “We have an ethnically and socially very diverse population. A vast majority already uses the mobile to run their daily lives. I believe that text messaging to remind them about their appointments is a perfect first step towards building a ‘mobile relationship’ with them.”
Practices were selected to take part in the scheme because they have the highest percentages of patients who miss appointments. The trust will review the scheme in March 2007 before deciding whether to recommend it to the remaining practices in the area.
A study from Imperial College of London recently estimated that missed appointments cost the NHS approximately £789 million a year and suggested that the NHS could save £240 – £370 million per year by launching text appointment reminders throughout England.
The service will also be used by the practices to run their flu jab campaigns and to issue childhood immunisation reminders.
The deal with Lewisham PCT marks the largest deployment in the UK so far of iPlato’s Patient Care Messaging.