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NHS Hammersmith and Fulham fight smoking with text messaging service

London, 8th October 2009, An innovative scheme to use mobile technology to obtain a patient’s current smoking status and invite ‘quitters’ for Smoking Cessation services, has proved a great success in NHS Hammersmith and Fulham.  NHS Hammersmith and Fulham have a smoking prevalence of 24.2% and are committed to cutting that number down every year.

The recent scheme using iPLATO Patient Care Messaging, requested a patient’s smoking status via text message.  Patients could respond via reply text - all patient replies being converted to an email and sent back to the relevant surgery email address. Once identified as a smoker, the patients could then be sent an additional text message inviting them to enrol in Stop Smoking programmes. The results were presented this year at the UK National Smoking Cessation Conference (UKNSCC).

22 GP surgeries sent out a request for a patient’s smoking status via text message. The surgeries received 6,085 valid smoking status responses. Some of the top performing surgeries received as high as 57% valid response rates - 95% of those responses received within 24 hours of sending the original message.

After confirming smoking status, the surgeries sent out another text, to enrol smokers in quit programmes. This message invited smokers to text ‘quit’ to be contacted by a member of the local stop smoking team.  

Another way NHS Hammersmith and Fulham have reached out to smokers is by producing posters to be hung up around their borough. These posters direct patients to text ‘QUIT’ to a designated number printed on a poster, members of the public that text in to the designated ‘trigger’ number are subsequently contacted by the local Stop Smoking Service. The posters also give an option of a number to call if the ‘quitter’ does not want to text in. The iPLATO supported poster campaign ran for 6 months and generated 282 responses via text and approximately 300 by phone.

These initiatives have proved considerably more effective than traditional ways of obtaining information and reaching out to ‘smokers’. The cost savings possible with this approach has also proven to be compelling, when compared to the cost of previous methods employed for similar ends.

Tim Roberts Stop-Smoking Manager, NHS Hammersmith and Fulham said, “This way of reaching out to smokers to help them quit is not only effective but very fast, because of this, text messaging is an essential component in the promotion of stop smoking services.”

iPLATO Patient Care Messaging is increasingly being funded by PCTs for GP surgeries across the UK and is being used to address important Public Health concerns such as CVD, Smoking, Sexual

Health, Flu, Childhood Immunisations and Obesity.  The system works by integrating with the GPs’ clinical system where patient records are stored.  GP surgeries can search the clinical information they hold on their clinical systems to target specific groups of patients for SMS health promotion campaigns. 

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 About NHS Hammersmith and Fulham:

Hammersmith and Fulham Primary Care Trust (PCT) is the NHS organisation responsible for commissioning healthcare for people living and working in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

Our aim is to improve the health of local residents by providing access to high quality health services and encouraging people to make healthy lifestyle choices (for example stopping smoking, eating a healthy diet and taking regular exercise).

NHS Hammersmith and Fulham contact
Press and Communications Department
Tel: 020 3313 7226

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