When implemented correctly, SMS can be a powerful channel. This has been highlighted recently through the 'Remind Us' campaign, which hopes to help save thousands of lives by reminding 780,000 patients about their upcoming cancer screening appointments.
The campaign was launched by myGP, which is an NHS-approved healthcare management and appointment booking app. myGP is calling for the NHSX (NHS digital department) to roll out a national SMS service that will become active across all practices.
At present, only 34% of practices can guarantee that all their patients will receive a text reminder alongside their traditional letter. With the new service, all patients will receive text message reminders before their upcoming appointments. Studies suggest that there would be an increased uptake in appointments by around 5.2%, which equates to 780,000 screenings.
In every 100 screenings, there is usually at least one cancer abnormality that is detected. These estimations calculate that the new service could, therefore, save 7,800 lives each year with a simple text message reminder.
Additionally, the campaign estimates that sending text reminders would be huge in cost-saving for the NHS. The cost of sending two SMS screening reminders to eligible patients is roughly £2.5 million per year for each screening type; cervical, breast, and bowel. However, this is much cheaper than the costs of treating patients, which can be as high as £19,000 per patient.
Currently, around 85% of adults give consent to their GP surgery that allows text reminders to be received. However, only 53% of eligible patients in London are attending screenings. This number rises only slightly in Manchester at 60%, and Liverpool at 64.8%. Therefore, a text reminder could help bridge that difference.
The campaign currently has over 1,000 signatures but will likely need to gain more traction if it is to succeed. You can offer your support by visiting the 'Remind Us' page and signing the petition.