Northland GP practices target smokefree goal with mobile tec

Friday, 15 July 2016, 3:50 pm
Press Release: Vensa Health
Northland GP practices target smokefree goal with mobile technology

GPs target high needs populations with Vensa Health’s practice-patient solution

AUCKLAND, NZ., July 15, 2016 – Northland’s Te Tai Tokerau PHO is supporting its GP practices and patients to use Vensa Health’s ( innovative practice-patient solution as it targets non-smoking status by 2025. Primary health care providers from Kawakawa in the Southern Bay of Islands to Te Hapua in the Far North can now connect with over 60,000 patients via text message to support the delivery of high quality primary health services.

Rose Lightfoot, CEO of Te Tai Tokerau PHO says, “We’re totally focussed on making gains for our high needs population and addressing the inequities in health status between Maori and Non-Maori by working closely with our communities.

“A main driver for subsidising our practices to use Vensa’s solution is that we have some of the highest smoking rates in the country, particularly in our Maori communities, and we want to have the lowest. Smoking not only has major health and financial consequences for individuals, it also impacts on overall family wellbeing.”

Lightfoot said to achieve Te Tai Tokerau’s Smokefree 2025 goal they needed to do things differently and think innovatively about how to remove any barriers and encourage people to participate more with their health provider. Ease of communication and cost were identified as two key issues.

“Many of our patients use cell phones as their main means of communication, so it’s a great mechanism to use to get across positive health messages. We’ll use it in a wide range areas from smoking cessation to immunisation to cervical screening to help patients keep well by participating in preventative activities.

“We’ve contributed funding for the Practices to contact patients, and Practices can make it free for patients to text back reply messages which greatly increases access and replies.”

Te Tai Tokerau PHO General Practice Facilitator Pat Millar says, “In relation to smoking, Practice staff have 3 main tasks – find out who smokes, offer positive health messages about quitting and find and support those people who are ready to quit. Utilising this technology for the first 2 tasks frees time to focus on supporting patients to quit.”

Kelleigh Embers, Vensa Health’s Service Delivery Manager says, “We now have the majority of Te Tai Tokerau PHO practices up and running and we’re getting some great results. We’ve seen practices receive dozens of replies from patients within the first hour of sending a text to request a smoking status update, and this engagement then flows through to more people seeking cessation support. Over 200 patients have already requested support to stop smoking as a result of text message campaigns over the past couple of months.”

Ahmad Jubbawey, CEO of Vensa Health says it’s rewarding for the company to see the positive difference their solution makes for GPs and their patients.

“We know around 550,000 people smoke daily in New Zealand, which is about 15 percent of the adult population, and the figure is as high as 40% for Maori. Around 5,000 people die each year in New Zealand because of smoking or second-hand smoke exposure; that’s 13 people a day.”

Jubbawey says that through Vensa’s solutions around 900 smokers have accepted brief advice and are now receiving support to quit from their GP clinic so far this year; and Vensa is aiming for 3000 by end year by working closely with PHOs and GP clinics nationally.

Over 65% of General Practices in New Zealand currently use Vensa Health’s innovative practice-patient communications platform and services deliver reminders for appointments, medication, screening and immunisations, lab results, preventative primary care services such as helping smokers to quit, and health advice through mobile text-messaging communications to over 3 million Kiwis a year.

Vensa Health’s innovation in healthcare was recently recognised with a highly commended for TXT2Remind at the inaugural NZ Health IT (NZHIT) Innovation Awards 2016

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