Digital Healthcare, a supplier of software to UK Diabetic Retinal Screening Services, has developed a module that uses text messages to help reduce the number of patients who miss appointments.

The SMS text reminder module uses NHSmail to send a free automated reminder at a preconfigured time before the patient’s appointment.

The administrator can customise the message for each patient or patient type and the interval between their appointment and sending of the message. The message can also remind them to re-arrange their appointment if they cannot attend.

The system has already been trialed at East Lancashire Diabetic Retinal Screening Programme, which covers NHS Blackburn with Darwen and NHS East Lancashire.

During the six month trial, a short reminder was sent to patients three weeks and one day before their appointment. The trial showed that 19% of patients did not attend their appointment when sent a text message, compared to 31% before the trial who were not sent a text message .

Kevin McDonnell, managing director at Digital Healthcare, said: “Reducing ‘did not attend’ rates for Diabetic Retinal Screening programmes is a key targetl programmes have a high level objective to screen at least 80% of eligible patients.

“This new module can help to reduce the number of DNA’s, reduce the financial and administrative cost of missed appointments and improve uptake of the service.”

Link: Digital Healthcare