SMS healthcare initiative to go nationwide

An SMS-based system which makes it easier for teenagers to access professional medical advice is to be rolled out across the country after it proved successful on a regional level.

The ChatHealth system was launched by the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust just over a year ago, serving people across the East Midlands, reports.

So far, it has received 3,500 text messages from service users in search of advice and support, helping to increase nursing capacity by reducing face-to-face visits.

Now, £100,000 has been pledged by the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network (EMAHSN) to help frontline teams across the country benefit in the same way. The money was put forward as part of a push to get healthcare bosses to use more digital platforms.

EMAHSN commercial director Chris Hart thinks the service can be a big hit with younger service users: “[ChatHealth] is a truly inclusive and innovative way for reaching out to patients, making use of technology that the smartphone generation is familiar with,” he said.

“We expect lots of interest from teams that support younger people like school nursing and health visiting teams, mental health and sexual health services.”

At present, the text messaging service is available to 65,000 people aged between 11 and 19. Feedback from the nursing team using it already indicates that patients are talking about a wider range of health issues, and many are seeking help earlier than they would have in person.