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October 29, 2020

Heard it through the grapevine

Chain SMS is eliminating primary care's “heard it through the grapevine” approach to communication

Updated: Nov 13, 2018


Most of us are familiar with the notion that the chance of a message getting distorted is increased when it is sent through a hierarchy. One of the most famous occurrences of a relayed message gone wrong was during the First World War, when a British Army Commander at the front line sent the message, “Send reinforcements. We’re going to advance.” The message was dispatched back to headquarters through a long chain of subordinates. When the message finally reached the headquarters, it had morphed to become “Send three and four-pence. We’re going to a dance.” As you could probably assume, the reinforcements never arrived…

When this type of communication is used in healthcare settings, patients have a higher chance of receiving inaccurate information, putting both the practice and the patient at risk. This game of “telephone” is also unnecessary now that we possess the technology to prevent such miscommunications from happening in the first place. When clinicians are able to directly send a message to their patients, they do not have to rely on their support staff to relay health advice. One practice manager noted...

Doctors are able to contact the patients with a message much quicker and the message is coming ‘from the horse’s mouth’ rather than via receptionist where the message may not be conveyed accurately or in a timely fashion.”

Patients aren’t only more assured about the accuracy of information they receive through SMS messages; they also feel more valued by their GPs. One practice manager stated...

The patients feel more important to their doctor. As the text comes directly from their GP, it means more. Chain SMS improves communication to patients, reduces clinical risk, improves patient satisfaction, and enhances safety around drug management.”

Positive patient experiences (such as those offered through Chain SMS) are key in ensuring that individuals continue to engage in their care plan, thus achieving the highest possible standard of health that the NHS has to offer.

Chain SMS is now used in over 800 practices across England, Wales and Jersey. Even better, Chain takes less than two minutes to install! You can just download it to try out or you can install for everyone at your practice. You can find a guide to installing here.