HOSPITAL bosses have launched a new service to cut down on the number of missed appointments while saving funds.
George Eliot Hospital chiefs are hoping the new text messaging service will reduce waiting times by cutting the number of patients failing to show up.
The Nuneaton NHS 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.
The new initiative is an expansion of a text message reminder service set up in 2009.
As revealed in the Nuneaton News, 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 that the initiative would see an end to wasted slots.
“By making it easier for patients to cancel appointments we can reduce waiting times by making these clinic slots available to other patients,” she explained.
“In 2011/12, 9.6 per cent 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 07860 022 028.
If successful, the Trust hopes to expand the service to cover patients with appointments for endoscopy procedures, X-rays, scans as well as planned surgery.
The Trust currently has mobile telephone numbers for 19 per cent of its outpatients and will be encouraging more staff to capture this information with a view to making the new service as effective as possible.
Mobile telephone numbers will only be used to contact patients in relation to their appointments and for no other purpose.