A project run by a dedicated Covid response centre is helping to reduce the number of missed outpatient appointments at Newcastle hospitals.
Run by the coordination and response centre, formerly part of the Integrated Covid Hub North East, the initiative supports priorities for Covid recovery, with a focus on reducing the number of patients waiting for treatment.
An in-house call centre team is working with Newcastle Hospitals’ endoscopy department to remind patients about their appointment and offer those who can no longer attend an opportunity to reschedule. This means the original appointment can be used for someone else, ensuring time and resources are not wasted within the department.
In five months, the project has contacted approximately 6672 patients on the waiting list for an endoscopy camera investigation at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) and The Freeman. The ‘did not attend’ rate – which changes on a weekly basis and varies between clinics – was approximately nine percent at its highest, which equates to potentially 600 missed appointments during this period.
The successful work of the team has reduced the rate to approximately 2.5 percent, saving around 434 missed appointments over the length of the project.
Daryl Perry, director of the coordination and response centre said: “We are delighted with the results of the project, which is supporting the department to make the best use of time and resource to care for more patients, while improve patients’ experience at the start of their journey.
“We know from patient feedback that the service has been well received as people have said they appreciate the reminder and value speaking to someone.
“There is scope to roll this out to other services and clinics and more widely to support the NHS across the region with Covid recovery.”
The project works by sending a two-way reminder text message to each patient seven days before their appointment, asking if they are still able to attend.
Within 24 hours a follow up reminder text message is sent and, if there is no reply, a call is made to the patient.
If people can no longer attend their appointment, the contact centre team speaks to the department and requests a call to be made so the patient to reschedule.
The innovative approach of sending two-way texts to patients was developed during the centre’s Covid response and has been applied in a broader hospital setting to support Covid recovery.
The project is part of the coordination and response centre’s role in supporting the NHS and local authorities, in particular to share resources and learning from the current pandemic, to support priorities for Covid recovery and to improve resilience for future pandemics.