Lewisham PCT has reduced the number of missed appointments in 16 practices by 27% by using text message appointment reminders from the iPlato Patient Care Messaging software.
The PCT which first started using iPlato last July now has 43% of its patients signed up to use the service. The PCT attributes the fall in missed appointments to the use of the SMS reminder service.
Marie Searle, a practice manager at one of the surgeries, 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.”
Patients in the area can register their mobile phone at the surgery reception and opt-in to receive appointment reminders and health information sent to them by mobile phone.
The text messaging service is now the key electronic channel for patient interaction throughout the area. Use has grown rapidly with a 50% increase in PCT-wide text volumes over the last 12 month period.
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.”
iPlato say that if the system was used nationwide, it could save over 2.7 million GP appointments and 1.3 million Practice Nurse appointments per year by simply replicating the success to date in Lewisham.