GP practices are using new iPlato functionality to allow patients to automatically cancel GP appointments via their mobile phone.

The new feature, available for Enterprise and Pro users, means appointments can be cancelled without intervention by practice reception staff.

The Hammersmith Surgery has trialled the functionality.

Practice manager Lesley Kenny said: “Whilst eliminating effort for practice staff to deal with incoming cancellation requests from patients, this new feature has significantly sped up the process of making short term appointments available for other patients.

“The reception team find it extremely efficient as freed-up appointments can be given to someone else phoning in.”

Chief executive of iPlato Tobias Alpsten said automated appointment cancellations is part of a broader feature set that aims to update the practice’s GP system automatically based on incoming messages from patients.

“The new iPlato feature recognises keywords so, when a patient sends a keyword such as ‘cancel’ as a reply to an appointment reminder, the appointment is automatically removed from the GP system and the practice reception are notified via e-mail.

“This new feature improves patient services and reduces the administrational burden for practices to manage appointments,” he added.