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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 June, 2003, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Text reminders for hospital appointments
Text message on a mobile phone
The messages will also contain adverts
Patients are to be reminded about hospital appointments by text message, in a trial due to start next month.

It is hoped the direct reminders will help reduce the number of missed appointments, which cost the NHS around 400m each year.

An initial trial at the Homerton Hospital in north London last summer proved successful, and the trial is to be rolled out to Portsmouth, Manchester, Coventry and north-west London.

Text messages reach patients in a way that email never could
Jeremy Wright, Enpocket
When patients initially book their appointment, they will be asked if they want to receive a text reminder the day before they are due to attend.

The cost of sending the message will be met by companies which will pay to include an advert.

Potential

Enpocket, the company which is developing the scheme, has already signed up the first sponsor, the health drink brand Yakult.

Jeremy Wright, co-founder of Enpocket, said: "This is the first service of its type in the health service but we think it has great potential.

"Text messages reach patients in a way that email never could because over 70% of the population have a mobile phone.

"There are a maximum 160 characters in a text message and we would need about 80 for the reminder which leaves about 80 for the sponsor's message providing it is approved."

Another 30 NHS trusts have said they are interested in joining the scheme, Mr Wright said. Texts could be spent for around nine million hospital appointments ever year.


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