GP practices in Birmingham have used text messaging to invite patients for vascular screening checks, generating a 44% response rate from patients.

Text messaging specialist iPlato said 24 GP surgeries from Heart of Birmingham Teaching Primary Care Trust used its Patient Care Messaging to call people for a vascular check.

The checks, branded NHS Health Checks, aim to offer all adults aged 40 to 74 a health check every five years to assess the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

iPlato said that on average participating surgeries spent less than an hour delivering the system, which resulted in 1,850 referrals to NHS Health Checks.

The campaign achieved a 44% response rate, which iPlato said indicated the popularity of vascular checks and the suitability of text messaging to engage with large numbers of patients.

Tobias Alpsten, managing director of iPlato Healthcare, said all the participating practices had hit their NHS Health Checks target.

He added: “Many PCTs find engagement and enrolment for Health Checks and other screening services challenging.

"Through iPlato Patient Care Messaging, which enables smart health promotion using SMS, IVR and call centre, we can help optimise the end-to-end process from data collection/cleansing all the way to enrolment and retention.”

The NHS Health Checks service was launched in 2009. PCTs are responsible for running their own call and recall systems for the programme while a national call and recall system is developed by NHS Connecting for Health. Full implementation of the programme is not expected until 2012-13.

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