Spencer Oates, Practice Manager, Brinsworth and Whiston Medical Centres, Rotherham

Our Target Messaging platform provides a quick and easy way for GP practices to send bulk/batch SMS text messages to patients. 

We spoke to Spencer Oates, Practice Manager at Brinsworth and Whiston Medical Centres in Rotherham, about how the Target Messaging platform helps them to achieve objectives, reach targets and drive efficiencies. 

What kind of things do you use bulk/batch messaging for? 

We use Target Messaging on at least a weekly basis for various campaigns – for example, we use it to call patients for their annual COPD, asthma and diabetes reviews. The messages alert patients when their review is due and prompts them to book an appointment with the nurse quickly and simply using our patient-facing app.

During the pandemic, we have used it to advise our patients of any changes – like the need to wear a mask when attending the practice and to alert them to social distancing measures we put in place. It was particularly useful when we needed to send out COVID-19 local guidance and public health information to our wide patient population as quickly as possible.  

Why do you like it? 

It’s really simple to use and we see immediate responses to our campaigns. If we ask people to book in for flu jabs for example, we see the appointment slots filling up within seconds of hitting ‘send’ so it also helps us to meet our vaccination targets. Combining Target Messaging with a dedicated practice mobile, and online booking via the Rotherham Health app (Substrakt Health’s PatientPack app), meant that we very quickly achieved our targets for flu vaccinations. 

We also like the fact that we can save certain messages as templates. We use this functionality a lot because it helps us to keep our messaging consistent and it’s obviously much quicker too. 

Target Messaging also helps us solve challenges. For example, this year’s seasonal influenza DES specification update asked for practices to include within at least one written communication offering vaccination to eligible patients, a request that the patient advises us of their ethnicity status. This is only where a patient had not previously provided this information. So we exported a list of the patients that met this criteria from our clinical system and used Target to send out a campaign asking them to confirm their status quickly and simply via SMS so it could be coded to the patient record. 

How does it make your life easier? 

Everything is automatically recorded on the patient record. Once the message has been sent and received it is coded and recorded. The system also allows us to set up specific words which we can link to specific codes. When a patient uses that word in a response it can then be directly coded to their record without intervention. 

For example, we could send a message to a patient eligible for a particular vaccination and ask them to reply with the word ‘decline’ if they don’t want to receive the jab. This information then gets automatically saved to the record and also means they won’t receive any further reminders to book the appointment.  

Even if a patient texts back with an unexpected response, all replies go into a file we can access and check just in case there is something important we need to pick up with a patient. 

Would you recommend Target Messaging to other practices?  

Absolutely – without a shadow of a doubt. We use it all the time. Before we had this sort of technology everything we now use it for was either communicated by letter or by telephone calls to patients, so you can imagine how much time and money it saves. 

Read more about Target Messaging

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