The launch of a new text messaging service aims to reduce waiting times at George Eliot Hospital by cutting the number of patients missing appointments.
The Trust is launching the new service that will allow people with outpatients appointments to receive a text message reminder and the option to cancel or rearrange that appointment by sending a response.
This new initiative is an expansion of a text message reminder service set up in 2009. The previous system just sent a text to patients reminding them of the time, date and location of their appointment. The new system will allow patients to respond to this text to say that they are unable to make their appointment, therefore allowing another patient to take that appointment slot.
Patient Access Manager, Laura Gibson, said: “By making it easier for patients to cancel appointments we can reduce waiting times by making these clinic slots available to other patients.
“In 2011/12, 9.6% of outpatient appointments were missed; this means that on average, there were approximately 50 appointment slots each day that could have been made available to other patients. Missed appointments also cost the Trust money in lost income and because staff time is not being used to maximum effect.
“Over the last few years, we’ve gradually increased the number of text messages we send and subsequently seen a reduction in the number of missed appointments. This initiative has proved successful at other hospitals and with the expansion of the service and a drive to capture more patient telephone numbers, we anticipate seeing further reductions in missed appointments and subsequent reductions in waiting times.”
Patients who wish to register for the text message reminder service can do so by texting their name, date of birth and hospital number to +447860022028.
If successful, the Trust hopes to expand the service to cover patients with appointments for endoscopy procedures, x-rays, scans and planned surgery.