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NHS App messaging cuts costs by over £1m

by Rima Evans
9 May 2024

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Messaging patients via the NHS App rather than using texts has saved the health service more than £1m in the past year, according to the Government.

In 2023/24, 22.5 million messages were sent through the NHS App in England – these would previously have been sent as a text message or letter.

The average cost of sending a text message is around 5p, which represents a saving of at least £1.1 m, NHS England has said.

Currently, it’s estimated that around £450m is spent annually on communication activity with patients.

People switching on notifications in the NHS App have their messages automatically sent through that software, so it’s less costly than a text and more secure, NHS England explained.

The messaging services available in the NHS App depends on the GP surgery or healthcare provider, but many users can now view messages sent from NHS healthcare services (through the app’s messaging service) as well as view responses from their GP practice or follow up on things like test results.

Patients can also view messages sent to their healthcare provider, such as to specialist hospital doctors.

Dr Vin Diwakar, national transformation director at NHS England said: ‘When we talk about the benefits of the NHS App, we usually focus on patient convenience, or the admin time saved for frontline staff – but the NHS App is also saving the NHS significant amounts of money on text messages and postal stamps, and these savings will only get larger as more features are added to the app in the future’.

He added that by encouraging more people to use the app and switch notifications on, the NHS can ‘really start to reduce the estimated £450 million per year that is currently spent on communicating with patients’.

The NHS App now has more than 34 million registered users, which is around three quarters of the adult population in England.

Earlier this year, a new feature on the NHS App was released that shows patients their waiting times for hospital treatment. NHS England estimated that up to 20% of calls to GP practices ‘could be resolved’ as a result of referred patients being able to see that they are on a waiting list and the estimated month their first hospital treatment will take place.