Identifying Smokers via text messaging proves effective for CVD battle

An innovative scheme using mobile technology to identify patients 'at risk# of developing CVD by effectively establishing smoking status has recently proved a great success for NHS Hammersmith and Fulham.

Photo: Identifying Smokers via text messaging proves effective for CVD battle

The scheme found that the use of iPLATO Patient Care Messaging to request a patient’s smoking status via text message, resulted in significantly higher response rates than other methods of communication previously used, enabling a patient’s medical record to be updated quickly and efficiently.

According to a study made by the British Heart Foundation, the risk of mortality from any cardiovascular disease is 60% higher in smokers compared to non-smokers, making the identification of this ‘at risk’ group a crucial element in the battle against CVD.

From searches made on their GP system, the surgeries sent out a text message asking patients to text back their current smoking status. Patients who received this message were able to text back their status via a reply text that arrived at the surgery as an email (to a pre-defined surgery email address). The Brook Green Medical Centre, in Hammersmith and Fulham, successfully used the platform and achieved response rates of 49% when requesting smoking status via text message.

Peter Dawson, Practice Manager at Brook Green Medical Centre said, “I found the campaign tool very easy to use. Response rates were much higher than expected and we have since received very positive feedback from patients who thought it a novel and efficient use of technology.”

The potential of this approach is considerable when new Department of Health data collection requirements are taken into account. The Local Delivery Plan Return (LDPR) is a data collection undertaken by the Department of Health to monitor the progress of SHA’s, PCT’s, and NHS trusts in the achievement against the Local delivery plan ‘trajectory schedules’ and data collected for monitoring purposes in relation to government policy.

As part of the Local Delivery Plan Return (LDPR), each PCT is required to submit the total number of patients on the register aged 16 and over with smoking status recorded in the last 15 months. The use of the iPLATO Patient Care Messaging to perform this task in GP surgeries in Hammersmith and Fulham and elsewhere has proven to be very successful to support the achievement of this LPDR target.

Miles Freeman, Director Primary Care at NHS Hammersmith and Fulham, said, ‘’Having the Patient Care Messaging capability within over 80% of our GP surgeries has made keeping in touch more convenient for both patient and GPs. Improving the recording of Smoking Status across the borough is also helping the PCT to plan more effectively and improve our local stop smoking service, helping more people to quit and preventing very serious illnesses.’’

Funded centrally by the PCT, the service has been adopted by 85% of NHS Hammersmith and Fulham’s GP surgeries and is being used to address important Public Health concerns on an ongoing basis.


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