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New text reminder service launched

14 Mar 2013

Text message on iPhonePatient care will improve with fewer patients missing appointments and new patients getting faster treatment, thanks to the introduction of a text messaging service at the Trust.

Programme Manager, Michael Doyle, said: “Text messages are a simple way to remind patients about their appointments. It will help our patients get the help they need more quickly by helping us manage our clinics better. Fewer cancelled appointments mean we will be able to reduce waiting lists and waiting times as well as spend our NHS resources more wisely.”

Studies show that patients who don’t attend booked appointments frequently end up going to A&E and estimates suggests ‘did not attends’ or ‘DNAs’ cost the NHS as much as £700 million a year.

“This is a problem for us at West London Mental Health Trust as it is elsewhere in the NHS. Introducing text messaging will help us significantly reduce patient waiting times and cut our DNA’s (did not attend) by almost a half.”

Over the next few weeks, adult patients who use our local services will receive a text offering them the opportunity to opt-out of the service. On 19 March the text reminder service will start.

Each adult patient will receive a text message seven days before their appointment giving them the opportunity to confirm, cancel or reschedule through a dedicated number staffed from the Trust contact centre. A second reminder will be sent 24 hours before to confirm the appointment time and date.

We plan to roll out the service across our services for children and adolescents, adults and those living with dementia.

Michael Doyle added, “Patients have told us that they would welcome the introduction of a text messaging service similar to that provided by their local GPs and dentists. We’re delighted that we can now embrace the technology that’s available to us and help our patients take better control of scheduling their appointments.

“This is just one of a number of initiatives to improve how the Trust uses information technology so that it can deliver better care to patients and improve communication with other parts of the NHS. Other projects include enhanced use of the national Choose and Book electronic referral system used by GPs, a 24/7 service user and telephone support line and an information sharing system that allows GPs and mental health clinicians to exchange patient data more efficiently.”

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