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Trust sends text message reminders for patient appointments
9:00am Monday 20th August 2012 in News
Text message reminders for outpatient appointments are being rolled out across Bradford teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust following a successful pilot in children’s services.
The move comes as the organisation, which manages Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke’s Hospital, tries to stem the problem of thousands of missed appointments every year – known as Did Not Attends (DNAs) – which wastes NHS cash and affects waiting times, clinic capacity and referral for treatment.
The ENT and ophthalmology paediatrics department, along with urology, orthopaedics, cardiology, haematology and oncology have gone live with the text service and other specialties are collecting patient consents in order to get the system up and running before the end of the year.
Karen Stansfield, information and improvement analyst with the service improvement team at the Foundation Trust, said: “Last year, 54,376 patients did not attend their outpatient appointments and these missed opportunities have a financial cost for us all.
“The outpatients’ improvement programme was developed to increase efficiencies and productivity while improving and enhancing the patient experience.
“In order to try to reduce the number of DNAs, we reviewed our communication methods with patients and sending text reminders will hopefully reduce DNAs and encourage patients to re-schedule if they can’t attend.”
She said patient feedback was vital in the service’s development and so far users had been positive, saying texts were both practical and helpful, especially when some attend multiple appointments across different specialties, which are booked months in advance.
The children’s outpatient department trial found the DNA rate dropped to 6.6 per cent in text recipients, compared to 12.5 per cent for those who didn’t receive the text.
The service sees patients receive two reminders – the first two weeks prior to their appointment and the second the day before they are due to attend. The message includes a telephone number where people can call if they need to reschedule.
Patients have to opt into the service and their mobile number and consent is recorded on the inpatient manager system.
Patients who attend outpatient clinics are encouraged to ask about the service when attending their next appointment.