Successful weight control via Text Messaging

A highly innovative scheme to use mobile technology to obtain a patients weight has proved success in Hammersmith & Fulham PCT. The recent scheme found that by using iPLATO Patient Care Messaging to request a patient's weight via text message, the patient's medical record could be updated quickly and efficiently with a current body mass index (BMI) reading.

Photo: Successful weight control via Text Messaging
This finding ties straight into the government’s £372m ‘Healthy Living’ strategy, which aims at cutting levels of obesity in England.
After sharp increases in the last decade, nearly a quarter of adults and nearly a fifth of children are now currently obese in the UK.  By using their GP Administration System (EMIS, INPS Vision, etc.), linked to Patient Care Messaging, GP surgeries can support ‘obesity related’ mobile health promotion campaigns via the sending of personalised text messages.  In this case: ‘What is your weight?’ 
This approach has proved considerably more effective than traditional ways of obtaining this information.  The Bush Doctors Surgery, in Hammersmith & Fulham PCT, successfully tested the platform and achieved response rates of 29%.
Mandy Norton, Practice Manager at The Bush Doctors said, ‘’Text messaging has been a massive help, enabling us to gather a patient’s weight quickly in order to calculate their BMI. Of course we weigh people at the surgery, but this method allows us to quickly and very cost effectively update the records of people who may not need our services very often. With mobile being the communication method of choice for our very varied patient base and with obesity levels being where they are, we feel that this is a perfect complement to our current service ’’.
Hammersmith & Fulham PCT’s Local Enhanced Service for Cardio-Vascular Disease requires a recent BMI reading for 40% of the population.  The campaign took less than one hour of a Practice Manager’s time, including searching for patients with old or no BMI reading, sending the text message, receiving replies and entering the results back onto the patient record.  The campaign will now be replicated across the Borough, touching the lives of almost 100,000 people.
iPLATO’s Managing Director, Tobias Alpsten said, “Over the years we have seen surgeries use our text messaging system to develop health promotion campaigns. Being able to obtain a patient’s current BMI reading in a fast and accurate way could play a significant role in the fight to reduce obesity levels nationwide.’’


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