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Local hospitals reduce missed appointments with help from digital system

Over the past few months, Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) have been helping local people keep their appointments by making use of a new text reminder service.

Introduced back in August, this innovative new system – known as DrDoctor – is capable of issuing messages to mobile phones, so that patients do not forget about their upcoming hospital visits. To make things even more convenient, the application gives them the opportunity to cancel or rearrange appointments from the comfort of their own homes (as well as the ability to add these straight to their calendar), whilst also providing useful information so that they can easily prepare for their visit and know what to expect.

Nationally, around one in 10 appointments are missed every year in England, costing the health service millions of pounds. Unfortunately, DBTH is within the top 25% of all trusts in the country for patients not attending appointments, recording around 140 missed a day or 50,000 each year. Equating to around £6 million in lost funding annually for the local hospitals, in real-terms this wasted cash is the equivalent of 200 nurses, 747 hip replacements or 22,388 MRI scans.

Since its implementation across 15 specialities, DrDoctor has enabled over 3,900 cancellations and rescheduled dates at the Trust, which have in turn freed up slots for other patients to use. This has coincided with a significant reduction in missed appointments, helping services to run more smoothly and saving the organisation more than £53,000 in the process.

In November alone, the dermatology department managed to save approximately £10,000 with the aid of the app, reporting a ‘did not attend’ (DNA) rate of 8%, a marked improvement on the previous year’s 11% figure. Likewise, the Audiology, General Surgery, Gynaecology, Rheumatology, Trauma and Orthopaedics, Vascular and Paediatric Services have all benefited in a similar fashion as well.

Speaking about the impact of DrDoctor, Dr Mike Whiteside, Physician and Chief Clinical Information Officer, said: “Uptake for the system has been incredible so far and we are hoping to build upon its success even further as we head into 2020. With that goal in mind, so that everyone gets the most out of DrDoctor, it is vital that patients supply us with their most up-to-date contact details. Only then will we be able to send notifications over text and cut down on missed appointments. Ensuring that we make the most of technology is key to our future success as an organisation and will undoubtedly help us to achieve our vision to be the safest Trust in England, outstanding in all that we do.”

The launch of DrDoctor forms part of DBTH’s ‘Digital Transformation programme, a scheme of work which is looking at making the most of new technologies in order to improve patient care, safety, experience and treatment.

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