Patients across South Devon will now have the opportunity to be reminded about their hospital outpatient appointments by way of text message. As most people tend to carry their mobile phones with them at all times and read every message they receive, it can be a far more effective and convenient communication method than email or post.
Every year, more than 330,000 people attend Torbay Hospital and the community hospitals for outpatient appointments and South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, the Trust which runs Torbay Hospital, strives to provide patients with all of the information they need to receive their planned care and treatment with the minimum of fuss.
The Trust developed a Text Reminder pilot some time ago as part of its project to improve the patient experience and to reduce the ‘did not attend’ (DNA) rates. This project has already seen the successful development of the Patient Access Centre, which is now making it easier and quicker for patients to contact the Hospital to arrange or rearrange appointments.
The Text Reminder Service will mean that a text message is sent reminding patients of their appointment date, time and specialty. If the appointment is no longer required or convenient and the patient would like to cancel or reschedule, they will be able to respond to the text message indicating this, and a member of the Patient Access Centre team will contact them to cancel and/or reschedule their appointment. This will also enable the Trust to offer the slot to other patients via its short-notice waiting list.
Appointment reminder text messages will only be sent to patients with their consent. Once consent has been noted on a patient’s record, the automated reminder service then selects these patients and issues the reminder text four working days prior to their appointment. The Trust would encourage all patients in contact with the hospital to give their consent to receive reminder texts as this will enable the Trust to help them and others get the most out of the service. The service is not currently available to cancer services or genitourinary medicine (GUM).
David Crompton, Patient Access Centre Manager, said: “Each year, more than 24,000 patients miss their hospital appointments. The clinical time for the missed appointment is wasted resulting in increased waiting times for all our patients.
“We hope that the Text Reminder Service will reduce the number of patients who fail to attend their appointments and in turn help to manage clinic slots more efficiently, as early cancellation will enable us to reallocate these valuable appointments to other patients.
“We are currently in the process of texting patients to ask if they would like to receive appointment reminders by text. Please help us improve our service to all patients by contacting either the Patient Access Centre or a clinic staff member to let them know if you have changed your mobile phone number.”