How can technology help the NHS during the COVID-19 outbreak
There’s no denying that the NHS has been under increased strain over the last few years with staff shortages, increased waiting times and an unprecedented number of nurses leaving the profession. With the latest COVID-19 developments, looking for ways to relieve some of this pressure is of paramount importance.
At FastSMS we believe that the introduction of technology can help to support the NHS and its patients during the toughest of times. One of the problems that we face at present is how to look after those patients already requiring treatment without putting them at risk of contracting the virus when visiting a hospital. Below are some examples of how SMS has been used to help people with long-term conditions.
Managing chronic conditions
SMS can be of great help in managing chronic conditions without any personal contact. Researchers at The George Institute for Global Health in Sydney conducted a clinical trial which evaluated how an intervention by text message could be used to increase medication adherence in adults with chronic diseases.
Applications ranged from a text being sent to patients if they failed to open a medication dispenser, to personalised messages regarding specific medicines and dosages. The conclusion was that SMS proved to be an essential tool in disease prevention, monitoring and management.
Monitoring long term health conditions
Text messages can also be used to send a friendly reminder for patients to log their vital signs such as blood oxygen levels. Depending on the results recorded, platforms can then provide some guidance based on the agreed care between the medical professional and the patient. This type of digital management has led to improved treatment and lowered anxiety levels for patients with conditions such as COPD.
Flexibility of delivery
Another advantage of mobile devices and telehealth technology is their flexibility in delivery, which enable patients to stay at home and reduce in-person contact.
However, even though technology can help support patients from the comfort of their home, there are still people that will need to attend doctors surgeries or hospitals. SMS can also be of use here.
It’s widely reported that the cost of missed healthcare appointments to the NHS alone is close to £1 billion per year. SMS is a fantastic channel to reverse this trend. Sending a simple text message reminder of an upcoming appointment can help to reduce no-shows by almost 50% according to Health Services Research. Text messages have a 95% open rate, meaning that patients are alerted to their upcoming appointment and can be offered the opportunity to reschedule if necessary, thus freeing up the appointment for someone else.
Critical message alerts
SMS has been used as an efficient alert system for many years and never has it been more important for the healthcare industry. SMS can be used to communicate to your entire workforce or your patients at the touch of a button. This has been most effective in communicating to people the symptoms of coronavirus or warning people of clinic restrictions and closures.