Innovation That Matters

In-home STD tests with results by text message


Making it as straightforward as possible for young people to get checked out, a London council has initiated a new Chlamydia testing system. The service, offered by NHS Hounslow in West London, lets residents between 16 and 24 go online to request a free self-testing kit by post. In their own time and space, users provide a urine or swab sample and post it off to a laboratory. The results are delivered by text message or post, depending on the user’s preference. The service began in February 2009, announced using less high-tech systems: 19,000 of the borough’s residents aged 16–24 received a letter announcing the scheme. Despite such wide reach, the text messaging service will not be automated. Real people will write the initial text messages and will provide text responses to queries, giving users the personalised advice and information they need without the awkwardness of speaking to someone over the phone. By choosing less engaging types of communication, the council expects to engage more users. Which is a smart example of tailoring your approach to your audience’s needs. One for others to follow, in healthcare and beyond? Spotted by: The Register via Judy McRae


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