Text messaging specialist iPlato has launched a smartphone service to enable GP practices to create their own mobile internet sites.
The service, mSite, gives licensed users of iPlato’s Patient Care Messaging system free access to the module, which allows practices to create their own mobile internet site to inform patients about opening hours, contact details, access maps and out-of-hours services.
NHS Hammersmith and Fulham, which already uses iPlato’s text messaging service, is to use mSite to promote health and increase awareness of local services.
The primary care trust also hopes to improve access to primary care services, help patients access out-of-hours services and reduce unnecessary visits to A&E.
Miles Freeman, director of commissioning at NHS Hammersmith and Fulham, said the PCT viewed the initiative as a long term channel development opportunity rather than as a quick fix.
He added: “As a pioneering PCT we’re excited about being the first to offer our patients this new option to access local health information via a mobile.
"We already utilise a range of channels to communicate with our patients and with mobile phone numbers recorded at our GP surgeries at over 50%, adding a mobile option seems an obvious choice.”
Freeman said he recognised that not all of the PCT’s population used the type of phones required to access the service, but predicted that as smartphone usage increased demand to use them to access health information would also increase.
iPlato said GP practices can promote mSite by adding a link to the surgery site in each appointment reminder message.
Following the link will give the patient access to the surgery site with links to information about local services and, currently, promotion of No Smoking Day on 10 March.
Tobias Alpsten, managing director of iPlato, said that according to the Mobile Data Association an average of 17m people per month in the UK used the mobile internet in 2008.
He added: “Since then the iPhone has popularised the concept of using the mobile to access applications and information.
"The surge in smartphones coming to market over the next year will present our PCTs and GPs with the opportunity to engage with large numbers of their patients using this channel.”
iPlato said mSite is designed to work on all mobile internet enabled phones in the UK.