Appointment Reminder Service for patients launched
Last updated 15-Feb-12 08:55
The Trust has now launched its free Appointment Reminder Service for patients. This incorporates a convenient text messaging service delivering a discreet reminder direct to the patient’s mobile telephone or to their home telephone.
The service is intended to reduce non-attendance rates for Trust appointments. Each year around 4500 patients fail to turn up for their appointment having not called in advance to cancel it.
This inconveniences other patients, who are left waiting for no reason and could have taken the earlier slots. But it also has a negative impact on the Trust’s finances.
The money we use to provide our services is paid per patient by health authorities. Payment varies according to specialty and treatment, but the average income per patient is around £100. This means that patients who miss their appointment slots cost the Trust nearly half a million pounds each year.
By reducing non-attendances as much as possible, waiting lists will be worked through more efficiently and the extra money can be reinvested into patient care.
How it will work
The service works by sending patients a free text message approximately one week before their appointment is due. This text will offer the option, if necessary, for the patient to request a cancellation or contact telephone number to call to rearrange their appointment.
If we do not hold a mobile telephone number, we will send an automated message to the patient’s landline, with the option for the patient (if necessary) to request a cancellation or to rearrange their appointment.
Some targeted older patients, where we have sent a message to their landline, will be offered the option to be put through to speak to an agent in our Central Appointments Office.
On the day before the appointment, we will send a one way appointment alert to the patient.
These two way messages mean that we get vital information about the appointment slots that become available and have time to fill them.
How the patient can opt out of the reminder service
If the patient does not wish to receive an appointment reminder message they can opt out of the service. This is done by calling a number that is given to them, by letting a clinic receptionist know next time they visit clinic, or by sending us an email with their name and date of birth to ensure they are removed from the system. Patients can opt back in at any time by contacting us via the same methods.
Nicola Aristodemou, Team Leader in Central Appointments, said: “This is a fantastic new service that will benefit not only the patient who receives the message, but also all others scheduled to be seen on that day.”