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NHS Direct has backed research that highlights the benefits of mobile phone services in healthcare.

The report, titled The Role of Mobile Phones in Increasing Accessibility and Efficiency in Healthcare, outlines benefits from mobile phones – notably through the use of text messaging – and suggests such services could be further developed by the NHS.

The report was commissioned by mobile phone operator Vodafone and the research carried out by Tanaka Business School in association with NHS Direct (the health service telephone and internet helpline), the University of Dundee, and the Office of Health Economics Consulting. NHS Direct medical director Dr Mike Sadler chaired the launch event on 24 March.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Introducing SMS appointment reminders could save the NHS in England £240m to 370m per year.
  • Using an SMS support system improves glucose levels in young people with diabetes by 10 per cent. This can reduce diabetes related complications such as blindness by 76 per cent and kidney disease by 50 per cent.
  • Tuberculosis patients could also benefit from SMS support systems. It could lead to a reduction in deaths and provide savings of up to £1.9m per 1,000 patients.
  • Calls to NHS Direct by mobile are increasing four times faster than calls made through landlines, especially by people who were previously low users of NHS services.

Sadler commented: "NHS Direct has revolutionised patient access to the NHS and mobile is playing an important part in this. We know that the use of mobile in healthcare is acceptable to the public and the benefits are available now.

"However, it is under-utilised at present. This report brings together a number of different studies and shows how mobile offers genuine opportunities to address the challenges of healthcare in the 21st century."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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