Barts slashes missed appointments


SMS reminders reduce \'did not attends\'

Barts and the London Hospital NHS Trust has slashed the number of missed outpatient appointments following the installation of Orange Health Gateway, an automatic appointment reminder text service.

Launched in August 2010, the service is powered by iPlate and enables the trust to send timely, personalised patient appointment reminders via SMS. The organisation currently sends around 2,000 texts a day and receives around 100 replies requesting to cancel or reschedule appointments. Since implementation the number of missed appointments has reduced by more than 20% in some services.

Gregory Bird, deputy general manager for outpatients, said: “This kind of two-way texting system turns a simple SMS into a productivity tool, enabling patients to quickly and easily notify us if they wish to cancel or reschedule their appointment.

“This communication helps save time and hospital resources and the cancelled appointments can be re-allocated to another patient. The service allows us to optimise attendance rates and better manage capacity and demand and detailed system reports also help us to improve data quality. Patient care is at the heart of everything we do and appointment text reminders play a key part in this.”

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Kate Jack, head of public sector and health at Orange, added: “Mobile technology is revolutionising how hospitals operate and, with patient numbers increasing and staff under increasing pressure to meet efficiency targets, it has never been more important.”