Automated text message reminder service for NHS outpatients to save NHS trusts over £300 million each year and effectively cut waiting times by 11%
20th September 2004.
Of the 44 million NHS outpatient appointments booked each year, research shows that over 11 per cent of these are missed. With an average cost per appointment of £67, this amounts to over £320 million that is simply wasted. In addition, the amount of nursing and clinical time wasted as a result is estimated to be 150 thousand man days each year – a significant amount of time in an already under-resourced NHS.
McKesson, healthcare IT specialists, today launches a new service to help NHS Acute trusts reduce the number of Out-patient ‘Did Not Attends’ (DNAs), or missed appointments. TotalCARE Meditxt will send patients automated reminders via text message in advance of their appointment, ensuring the number of DNAs due to human error are minimised. In addition, patients will have the option to respond to cancel or request a change of appointment, freeing up these otherwise wasted slots for other patients.
TotalCARE Meditxt will also enable NHS trusts to recall patients, and provide them with ‘no contact’ (ie. all clear) or ‘contact us’ requests regarding test results, thus saving costs, increasing efficiency and significantly reducing the administrative and material overheads of a manual reminder and rebooking service.
Jeremy Chandler, Managing Director of McKesson UK, comments, “The amount of time, money and healthcare professional resource that is currently going wasted within the NHS because of simple human error, is widely reported. However, until relatively recently, there was very little that trusts could realistically do to prevent this.
He continues, “However, the technology is now available to potentially eradicate this level of wastage altogether. Furthermore, it is proven to have a significant positive impact in other areas of the public sector such as education. By intelligently integrating mobile technology within our existing healthcare IT systems, McKesson aims to help trusts achieve their goal of making the provision of healthcare services more accessible.”
TotalCARE Meditxt is a browser-based, automated text tool, which is based upon the txttools application suite and service, and tailored for specific use in the healthcare industry by McKesson. The tool integrates with both McKesson’s TotalCARE Patient Administration System (PAS), and other PAS systems used throughout the NHS. With a cost per text message of just 10p, TotalCARE Meditxt can be set up to contact patients according to the preferences of the individual healthcare specialist. Any information exchanged will automatically be updated to the patient record, ensuring these are always accurate and up-to-date. While similar services are currently available for General Practitioners, TotalCARE Meditxt is one of the first automated text tool for NHS hospital outpatients.
Jeremy Chandler concludes,”With 51 million mobile phone users in the UK, 70% of whom actively send and receive text messages; this is an ideal opportunity to increase the efficiency of the NHS and service provision. As healthcare specialists, McKesson has teamed up with txttools to deliver a system that fits the nuances of the industry, and can provide significant benefit to the NHS trusts, healthcare professionals, as well as their customers.”