We held a workshop to discuss the demise of NHSmail SMS in April 2015 and the opportunities that lie ahead in a replacement service. Here’s what we covered:

Patients Now Expect a Reminder

All delegates contributed ideas and shared the challenges they face with sourcing a SMS replacement so no interprution to services occurs.  What resonated is that patients now expect a text reminder as part of the NHS service -it’s no longer optional!

The Big IG Issues on the Horizon

SMS via NHSmail is currently free and for this reason no one really knows who is sending texts and for what purpose within their organisation. Surprisingly no audit process has been established red flagging IG discussions on the horizon to align with the Data Protection Act.

Don’t Rely on One Communication Channel 

Statistics support that DNA’s drop by over 38% with a reminder and attendees spoke about the positive impact that Integrated Voice Messaging (IVM) and Agent Calls alongside SMS has on reducing DNA’s even further. Patient demographics need to play an important role in replacement decision making to ensure all patients benefit from a reminder.

The Future – What’s out There?

Mike Cunningham, our MD, presented all the replacement options out there with pros and cons.  He started with a like for like replacement where a reminder can be sent, but no response (such as CANCEL/ REBOOK) can be returned. Two way communication options on the other hand, enable patients to reply via text and 60% of Trusts are already using this option due to the DNA impact. Why? SMS is the most popular communication in the UK and 98% of texts are read – if patients prefer to communicate this way it makes financial sense!


An Appointment Management platform such as Envoy Messenger was then discussed. As well as two way messaging, Envoy offers reporting and analysis to drive cost down further with re-utilisation of cancelled appointments and increasing Payment by results. It also easily integrates with other channels, so if a SMS message is not received, an IVM can follow to ensure the reminder is received.

Pricing – All is not as it Seems!

Mike highlighted what delegates need to keep their eye out for in pricing – all is not as it seems! A company may offer a very competitive cost per text, however this is often based on a minimum amount of texts sent and if not reached, this price jumps considerably. For example a cost of 1.9p per text may be based on a minimum of 10 million messages sent, if your Trust doesn’t achieve this, the price rises to 5p per text – over double expected market price!

When You Need to get the Message out Fast!

With our Envoy Messenger, SMS is a multi-tasker and can be used for much more than just a reminder resource and some great examples were given. Our Client Services Manager explained how our Leicester NHS Trust use SMS as an alert to action if blood fridges drop in temperature! Other examples include warning patients of strike action, cancelled clinics, weather conditions and medical alerts.

Internally, SMS can be used to notify staff of any changes and medical staffing. Texts can also provide support and motivation to patients on a smoking cessation course, dietican advice or Trust events.

A Tool for the Whole Patient Journey!

The patient journey doesn’t end with the consultation and the Friends and Family Test completes the circle. SMS is the most popular way to survey patients and a platform that provides a solution to remind and survey is key to Trust efficency. Our Envoy Messenger easily converges these services to reduces costs and admin burdens.

Join Us for the Next One!

100% of attendees surveyed via SMS replied that they were ‘extremely likely’ to reccommend our workshop and we’re holding a London workshop on 5th Feb 2015.

Our Envoy Messenger has securely delivered 60m messages working in over 70 Trusts!