Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust has revealed it will be sending out SMS text reminders for hospital appointments in an effort to reduce the number of do-not-attends.
Starting from the end of March, patients waiting for an outpatient appointment will receive a reminder of the time and date of their appointment seven days prior to their appointment. The text will also offer patients the opportunity to confirm, cancel or rebook if necessary.
In addition, a further text message will be sent 48-hours before an appointment providing further details about where to go for face-to-face appointments or to give details on how to access virtual appointments.
Before the pandemic, patients at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole would receive a text message giving the time and date of their appointment. However, when Covid hit, the service was paused as appointments were transitioned to virtual ones, postponed or cancelled.
The newly re-introduced service now also includes the option to reply in order to confirm, rebook or cancel appointments, making it easier for patients to keep track of their appointments and rearrange if needed.
Every outpatient appointment is estimated to cost the trust around £160, and around 10 per cent of patients fail to turn up for their appointment. The text service will aim to tackle the volume of patients who miss appointments to ensure the trust is not wasting money.
Patients at the trust are being advised to ensure contact details are up-to-date. For those without access to the text reminders appointments can also be cancelled or rearranged by filling out a form on the website or calling the number on the appointment letter.
Text messages were also used early on in the pandemic by the NHS. People who were self-isolating with suspected coronavirus received daily check-ins from a NHS messaging service intended to reassure and support them.