Immunisation rates boosted by text messaging initiative

Immunisation rates and other healthcare outcomes are improving for Maori enrolled in Te Manu Trust's General Practice clinics in the Bay of Plenty and Raukura Hauora O Tainui in North Waikato, assisted by the introduction of Vensa Health's TXT2Remind system.

The 'Txt2Remind' practice-patient messaging system assists primary and secondary health providers to send mobile phone text message appointment reminders and health promotion messages. The system is used by 500 GP surgeries and throughout a number of New Zealand District Health Boards.

In secondary care settings in New Zealand, almost one in ten patients miss appointments, which costs the sector NZ$80 million annually.

Studies have highlighted the alarming health statistic of Maori living in the regions, with immunisation rates far below the national average of 88 percent.

Since the implementation of the system, both regions have seen positive outcomes. Rates of immunisation in the Bay of Plenty have increased from 47 percent to 61 percent after three months. Other Maori health providers using the system, such as Raukura Hauora O Tainui, have experienced impressive improvements in immunisation also. Raukura Hauora O Tainui implemented Vensa Health’s TXT2Remind system across a group of general practices in North Waikato in January 2010. Immunisation rates have risen dramatically from 55% coverage on average before implementation to 98% on average after fifteen months of use.

"The sooner we can help iwi improve their health or prevent illness the better," says Pat Cook, Acting General Manager at Te Manu Toroa Trust, "We have an enrolled population that is viewed as hard to reach so we knew we needed to do things differently to enable better access to healthcare."

Vensa Health Chief Executive, Ahmad Jubbawey explains: "We know that patients are more likely to turn up to appointments when receiving reminders via text message, particularly high needs groups who really benefit from the technology the most. The result is a marked increase in appointment attendance and an impressive increase in priority areas such as childhood immunisation."

Posted in Australian eHealth

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