King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has implemented digital pre-procedure preparation reminders for patients who are to have a colonoscopy procedure, aimed at reducing wasted appointments and repeat procedures as a result of poor bowel preparation.

The trust worked with Healthcare Communications on the SMS reminders solution, which first went live on 6th June 2022.

Over that period, King’s College Hospital has seen a 28% reduction in cancelled colonoscopies, with projected savings of £130,000 annually. In addition, the solution is helping to ensure patients receive more efficient care and tackling the problem of backlogs in the department.

Dr Mayur Kumar, consultant gastroenterologist and clinical lead for endoscopy at King’s College Hospital, said: “There is a national shortage of colonoscopy and endoscopy capacity, and so we can ill-afford to waste appointments. It is absolutely vital that each and every appointment slot is utilised effectively.”

According to the trust around 5% of colonoscopies are incomplete due to patients failing to follow pre-procedure instructions correctly.

Patients at King’s College Hospital now receive a number of SMS reminders, with clear instructions on what they should be doing and when, to ensure they are prepared for their colonoscopy, and the procedure doesn’t need to be repeated.

At 14 days in advance of their appointment, patients receive a standard reminder. This is followed by reminders at seven days, three days and 48 hours ahead of the procedure.

Additional reminders are sent at 24 or 22 hours before an appointment and are timed in accordance with a patient’s scan time. This helps patients to complete instructions at the correct time, and reinforces the importance of following pre-procedure directions correctly.

As well as containing vital information, the communications also include detailed video instructions, helping patients be well-prepared for their colonoscopy.

King’s College Hospitals teamed up with Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust to secure funding from NHSX for the project. The two-year plan has now become a routine process following its successful implementation.

Kenny Bloxham, managing director of Healthcare Communications, said: “The successful implementation of digital patient communications at King’s College Hospital represents a significant step forward in streamlining healthcare processes, enhancing patient experiences, and ultimately saving lives.

“We hope that this project at King’s College Hospital will serve as a model for other healthcare organisations seeking to improve efficiency and tackle backlogs in patient care.”

NHS Highland rolled out a new digital pre-operative assessment pathway as part of its National Treatment Centre which opened in Inverness in April.