As the trend towards using text messaging in healthcare continues Apollo Medical in Albany, on Auckland's North Shore are leading the way. This year alone the busy practice with 17,500 patients has sent around 34,000 text messages to patients including appointment reminders, lab results, scripts, notification of new services, and reviews and recalls for cervical smears, mammograms and immunisations.
Apollo Medical which offers an extensive range of primary care health services from traditional general practice care to the management of urgent medical problems and accidents has been using Vensa Health’s TXT2Remind since 2009.
Apollo Medical’s Finance & Administration Manager Katherine Williams says, “We’re using TXT2Remind more and more to communicate a wide range of messages to patients. All staff use the system in different ways so it really is part of the way we all work day to day. Doctors and nurses communicate results, recalls and appointment reviews to patients and our receptionists notify patients about new services and when scripts are ready to be picked up.”
Katherine is responsible for the financial reporting of the business, as well as overseeing the reception and administration staff teams. She says that the practice is seeing big benefits in terms of efficiency and cost using TXT2Remind.
“It’s definitely a lot quicker and more cost effective to batch up bulk recalls and send these all at once by text message rather than sending letters or phoning. It’s also really easy for our clinicians to send results and recalls to patients directly, which saves double handling.”
TXT2Remind is also used to send reminders to patients to re-enrol which is required every three years.
“It can often be really hard to get hold of people, particularly if they have moved address. People tend to keep their mobile phone so it’s a lot easier to keep in touch with people who have moved. We can simply update their contact details and re-enrol them,” says Katherine.
Importantly, patients are also responding positively to messages.
“Patients really appreciate reminders about appointments and it gives those who can’t attend the opportunity to reschedule and also allows us to rebook the open appointment. They also really like it when we text them to say their repeat prescriptions are ready as it really saves time and also means they don’t forget altogether.”
Apollo Medical recently took part in the Department of Health’s national Stoptober campaign to encourage people all across the country to stop smoking together on the 1 October for 28 days (and beyond). The campaign was based on evidence that shows if a smoker can quit for 28 days they are five times more likely to stay smoke free.
“We used text messaging as part of a big awareness campaign at the practice and we had some good success with people signing up for cessation support services,” says Katherine. “I’m sure we’ll keep finding new ways to use TXT2Remind to help our patients and our business.”
By Sandra Lukey