Text messages incredibly useful in general practice - but we recognise potential limitations

Publication date: 26 September 2017

Responding to a BJGP on text message use in general practice, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "Text messages are a straightforward technology that can be incredibly useful for GPs and our teams to communicate with patients on a wide range of issues, so it’s not surprising that there has been such a marked increase in SMS usage for this purpose.

"They are a cheap and convenient way to get important messages to patients and one area that we have seen particular benefit is in reducing missed appointments through sending out text reminders.

"However, we recognise the potential security limitations of texting especially to people who share their phones and GP practices will only send text messages to patients if they have given us permission to communicate with them in this way. In the main, we find our patients welcome this approach.

"If we need to get in touch with patients with sensitive information, such as test results that need further follow up, we would prefer to do this face to face or over the phone – but a text message can still be a useful prompt for a patient to contact the surgery to arrange this."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7633/7410
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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