Local GPs go mobile

New Text Messaging Service for Patients

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Patient and Public Involvement Forum

Doctors' surgeries across Hammersmith and Fulham are rolling out a new text messaging system to their patients.

Hammersmith and Fulham Primary Care Trust is funding the new service which will allow GPs to send appointment reminders and other useful information to patients’ mobile phones quickly and privately.

Dr Aras, Fulham GP and one of many signing up to text messaging, said, “In our area the majority of people have personal mobile phones, and unlike an answer machine at home or work a text message to a personal mobile will get to the correct person and with privacy.”

Pilots of the system in other parts on London have shown a 30% drop in wasted appointment slots where people have not turned up but not cancelled either. Missed, but not cancelled, appointments are a major problem across many NHS services. Research by Imperial College London estimates that text appointment reminders alone could save the NHS in England between £240 – 380 million.

Dr Aras added: “Even if people can’t attend an appointment the new system gives them quick and easy way to cancel by return text, which lets us offer the slot to someone else.”

The automated text messaging system also cuts down on the admin time (and cost) associated with sending out invitation letters for things like the annual flu campaign.

The service is free to patients. If they wish to take part they simply register their mobile phone number with their surgery. They can also unsubscribe at any time.

GP surgeries are signing up in June and the Primary Care Trust hopes to have the majority of the borough’s 31 surgeries using the text messaging system within a few months.

June 21, 2007