Text reminders could save NHS millions
The NHS could save tens of millions of pounds each year by sending text message to patients to remind them of hospital appointments.
Patients who are reminded in this way, or by phone, are 34 per cent less likely to miss an appointment than those who are not, according to a systematic review published in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare.
More than 6.5 million outpatient appointments were missed in England last year, at a cost of more than £600m. The worst offenders were patients in their 20s, who accounted for 15 per cent of the total.
Hospital trusts miss out on payments of an average of £100 per missed appointment as they are only paid for patients they see. The review examined 33 studies from countries including the UK, US, Ireland and Australia, and found it cost less than 50p to send a text reminder.
The NHS has struggled with reducing the huge number of missed appointments for years, partly because the system was notoriously inflexible and appointments were booked too far in advance.From The Independant, 24 Sept 2011 By Nina Lakhani
Coast to Coast Cycle for Alzheimers 2011
Members of the Diarymonitor dev team are participating in a long distance, coast to coast cycle across Ireland on April 1st. We are raising much needed funds for the Alzheimer Society of Ireland. The plan is to cycle from Clifden in the west coast of Ireland to Sandymount, Dublin in the east coast, over the 1st - 4th of April. There are rumours circulating in the office that our technical director may even be sporting a wicked new haircut for the event.
The Alzheimer Society of Ireland charity is a very worthy cause and we would very much appreciate your support in helping us to raise funds for this charity.
Update: We completed the cycle over three days in lovely weather conditions and we helped raise a total of €4282 for a good cause. Roll on next year!
How text reminders cut down hospital no shows by 29.5%
Texting patients on their mobile phones to remind them of their hospital appointment can cut down on the number of 'no shows', which wastes everyone's time and costs hospitals money, according to doctors in Tallaght Hospital in Dublin.
Doctors from the hospital's Department of Urology said more than half of patients who miss their appointment say they forgot about it or were confused about dates or times.
"Mobile phone usage in Ireland is the highest in Europe per head of population," they told the 'Irish Medical Journal'.To cut down the outpatient clinics' non-attendance rate, the urology department, with its IT colleagues, started to use the text message reminder, sending it to patients three days prior to each patient's appointment.
Following the introduction of text message reminders, the overall non-attendance rate declined to 12.4pc (3,423patients), a reduction of 29.5pc.
"The greatest improvement, a reduction in non-attendance rate of 63pc, was seen in patients between 16-30 years."
Outpatient no-shows cost HSE €33m
The cost to the health service of patients who do not turn up to hospital outpatient clinic appointments may reach €33 million this year. Figures obtained by Irish Medical Times show that at 30 hospitals monitored by the HSE, there were 35,042 missed appointments in January (at a cost to the health service of €2,803,360), 32,942 missed appointments in February (costing €2,635,360) and 34,228 missed appointments in March, (costing €2,738,240).
The HSE considers that the problem of ‘do not attends’ (DNAs) is a major factor behind long outpatient waiting lists around the country. In Ireland, hospitals calculate the loss at €80 per appointment. This includes the cost of everything from preparing charts to having staff available for clinics. In Britain, NHS data indicates it costs stg£30 per non-attendance.
The HSE’s 2009 Service Plan anticipates that with planned improvements, there should be a reduction in the number of appointments that lead to DNAs and this will create capacity for increased throughput at outpatient departments (OPDs). The published figures are not encouraging, as there has been little improvement overall in the number of patients failing to show for OPD appointments.
A survey was conducted at Ennis Hospital showed non-attendance was due in large part to a combination of poor communication from the hospital (19 per cent), condition resolved (14 per cent), patients forgetting (13 per cent) and change of address (13 per cent).
This should be seen in the context of waiting times of up to 600 days at some clinics, against a target of 90 days. The rate of DNAs at many hospitals can be 20 per cent or higher. A spokesperson for St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin said that the DNA rate at the hospital was ‘unacceptably high at over 2000 appointments per month’. The hospital is addressing this through a number of measures, including raising awareness among patients with hospital posters, letters and appointment cards all encouraging patients to cancel if they cannot attend.
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