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Membership Matters

Patients urged to sign up to text messaging reminders 

A new text messaging service to remind patients of their appointments is being promoted across the Trust.  In April, an online form for patients was launched which allows people to request to reschedule or cancel their outpatient appointment.  The form also captures patient consent to receive text message appointment reminders and over 80 percent of people have opted to receive these so far.

Steph Holloway, Patient Access Improvement Manager, said:  “Over a 12 month period up to February this year 65,390 patients failed to attend their first and follow up outpatient appointments.  At £136 per appointment, this was a loss to the Trust of over £8.8m.

“Patients do not attend their appointments because they have either unintentionally forgotten the date, or failed to inform the Trust that they no longer wish to be seen.  This can result in an unnecessary delay to the patient’s care pathway.”

To date, over 1,000 patients have used the online form which has already enabled the team to efficiently fill empty clinic slots.  Alongside the form, mobile telephone numbers with consent for patients to receive text message reminders of their upcoming outpatient appointments are being collated.

Steph added: “Our aim is to help reduce the number of patients who fail to attend their appointments and, in turn, manage clinic slots more efficiently.  We are asking staff to make their patient contact count by giving patients the opportunity to opt in to receive text message reminders.”

Posters are being circulated to display in patient waiting areas to promote the free text message appointment reminder service.  To register for the text messaging service patients simply need to give their mobile phone number to any outpatients’ reception.  For cancellations or rescheduled appointments, patients can complete the online form on the Trust’s website.

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