Solutions / Cancer

iPLATO’s engagement doubled cervical screening attendance



iPLATO’s engagement doubled cervical screening attendance

1 in 4 women do not take up their invitation to cervical screening. NHS East of England estimated this meant 450,000 women across the region did not attend their last cervical screening appointment. Tasked with increasing screening attendance in line with national screening recommendations made by Professor Sir Mike Richards in 2021, NHS East of England commissioned iPLATO’s patient engagement solution. To effectively target the patient cohort, iPLATO gained consent from GP practices for the standardised population-wide engagement programme to be delivered.

Patients twice as likely to attend screening
After six months of using Population Health Messaging results showed that:  

  • 29,000 extra screenings: those who received programme communications were twice as likely to attend a screening compared to those who only received a letter.
  • Earlier attendance: those who received a reminder attended their screening sooner.
  • Equal success within deprived communities: engagement methods achieved equal increases in screening attendance.

Saving hundreds of lives, and the NHS thousands of pounds in treatment costs 

Each year more than 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK, with 850 women dying from the disease. However, 83% of cervical cancer deaths could be avoided if all eligible women participated in cervical screening, a saving of 706 lives. The average cost to the NHS of an individual diagnosed with stage 2 or later cervical cancer amounts to £19,261, whilst for those at stage 1a, the cost is around £1,379 per person. Programme communication reminders can make the difference between someone getting the treatment they need and saving the NHS thousands of pounds in treating patients with late stage cervical cancer.  

Time to attendance
Time to attendance data (below) reiterates that those receiving an SMS as well as a letter were more likely to book an appointment. It also shows that those in the text reminder scheme tended to book appointments in the weeks immediately following the reminder, resulting in a more condensed peak of invitation acceptance than with letters only.

Whilst the SMS addition increased probability of attendance across all deprivation deciles, the most deprived groups (IMD 1 and 2) were still less likely to attend screening than the least deprived groups (9 and 10), regardless of invitation method used. The positive effect of receiving an SMS is also lower for those living in more deprived areas – 1.9 times more likely to attend following receipt of SMS compared to 2.3 times more likely in the least deprived group.