A South London PCT has used the iPlato text messaging system to remind parents that their child requires a booster vaccination.

Lewisham PCT wanted to improve patient compliance to the childhood immunisation schedule and so used the iPlato Patient Care Messaging (PCM) system to start a text message campaign reminding parents that their child is due for an important jab.

Stuart Hall, a practice IT manager from the Vale Medical Centre, said: “We were able to put together a list of children that were overdue for their specific jab and whose parents had not responded to letters sent out previously.

“Using the iPlato system, we sent a targeted text message to these parents asking them to call the surgery to book an appointment for their child’s missed vaccination. The result of this text campaign was overwhelmingly positive, with more than half of the parents phoning the surgery in response to this text alert, to schedule a new appointment.”

The PCT is the first to use the PCM system to remind parents of the need for their child to be immunised. Hall said that, although there were no figures yet for improvements acheived in immunisation rates, 75% of parents responded within 10 minutes of the message going out.

Due to the long periods between booster injections, parents can often forget that their child needs these important jabs. Texting parents to remind them can help alleviate this, iPlato says.

A spokesperson told EHIPC: “If the level of compliance to an immunisation schedule within a population decreases, then the number of children at risk of catching a disease increases, and, as a result, outbreaks of the disease are more likely to occur. The PCM has demonstrated in Lewisham how, through texting parents of young children, this risk is practically eliminated and children receive this vital jab as soon as they can.”

The iPlato PCM is now used by 20 PCTs in England, covering over 100 surgeries and integrating with all major GP patient administration systems.

Last month, the company released PCM version 3 which includes automatic updates of a patient’s medical record, whenever an interaction by text message occurs. A demonstration of the system can be found on the company’s website www.iplato.net

iPlato’s managing director, Tobias Alpsten, said: “The aim of our technology is to simplify and automate many of the processes that healthcare professionals are faced with. Improving patient compliance can be hugely burdensome especially when dealing with large groups of patients.

“iPlato’s text messaging system aims to help surgeries engage with their patients around compliance in a manner which is not only cost effective but also personalised and immediate.”