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Using Text Messages to improve Patient Communication during the Covid 19 outbreak.

Written by Jenny Cocking on 20-Mar-2020 12:02:50

GP practices are fundamentally changing day-to-day activity, as the scale of the coronavirus (Covid 19) pandemic increases. While GP surgeries have been told to limit the number of people who visit in person, receptionists are under huge pressure as they try to deal with the volume of calls. Indeed, growing numbers of surgeries have resorted to locking their doors to prevent patients with symptoms from entering.

This, however, will not address patient fears or reduce the administrative overhead facing all primary care providers. What is required is a faster, more effective way of communicating with patients – not only those looking for immediate treatment but also patients with existing, often routine appointments.


Fast, Effective SMS Communication

Growing numbers of practices are turning to SMS text messaging to improve patient communication, reduce the pressure on reception staff and, critically, minimise the chances of patients with Covid 19 symptoms from arriving at the surgery.

With 94% of UK adults owning or using a smartphone, using text messaging is saving time and money and rapidly providing patients with the information they require to ensure they understand the new operating practices.

Find out more about text messaging

GP Practices can use Vision text messaging in three ways.

1. Group Messaging

One option is to use the appointment reminder system to provide patients with up-to-date information regarding the new coronavirus procedures. SMSs can be sent to all patients with appointments to advise them not to turn up to the practice but to wait for a telephone call from a clinician to check for possible symptoms. The messages can be filtered based on different data sets – such as by GPs or GP sessions – to tailor the information provided to a specific set of patients if necessary.

2. Direct Communication

Doctors and clinical staff can also use Vision (Consultation Manager) to contact a patient directly via SMS if required, directly from the patient record. This again provides a rapid communication that takes some pressure from both administrative and clinical staff.

3. Tailored Messaging

Group text messages can also be sent out to specific patient groups – using Vision to identify a certain subset of the population. This is incredibly valuable, especially given the NHS England's plan to contact all individuals at particularly high risk of becoming seriously ill with coronavirus from Monday 23rd March.

Find out more about text messaging


In this constantly evolving situation, it is essential for all primary care facilities to keep in regular communication with patients – especially those with high-risk conditions. Individual and group text solutions provide practices with the ability to rapidly contact hundreds, even several thousand patients – at a very low cost and with confidence that patients will receive the information immediately.

Supporting patient care during the Coronavirus Outbreak

We have several solutions in place to help your GP practice through the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. Visit the coronavirus guidance page on our website for the latest advice. We will update this page, as and when the situation evolves.

Register for our free SMS webinar on Friday 27th March and learn how to:

  • capture mobile numbers for patients
  • text a group of patients
  • send questionnaires via text message

SMS Webinar Register CTA

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