NHS 24 - SCOTLAND’S Telehealth and Telecare organisation has launched a pilot Patient Reminder Service that can support Scottish Health Boards to deliver more efficient and effective outpatient services.
A pilot project delivered significant improvements in attendance figures to outpatient clinics.
The initiative, in which NHS 24 staff called patients in advance to remind them of appointments, is now set to be extended and will involve patients being contacted eight days before the appointment to remind them of the details.
The pilot scheme was conducted in gynaecology, paediatrics, gastroenterology and oral maxillofacial clinics. Results showed that the number of missed appointments in outpatient paediatrics, which had become as high as one in four, fell to one in six, and across the specialities as a whole, the rate reduction for the pilot in DNA’s (Did Not Attends) was 27 per cent.
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon saw a demonstration of the Patient Reminder Service during NHS 24’s Annual Review and heard more about how the scheme is set to be extended to other Health Board areas.
"It is every patients’ responsibility to keep their appointments," she said, "but we also recognise that the NHS has a role to play in helping to make appointments convenient for patients. The reminders have already achieved great results and with more Health Boards set to trial them we can hope to see a better service for patients and a reduction in NHS time wasted."
She said NHS 24 is now providing exciting new services, helping to improve quality and efficiency for patients.
The Annual Review process is a key element of the scrutiny of NHS services and it is absolutely right that those who manage our health service are held to account in public.
While most reminders are given using NHS 24 call operating staff, future offerings will include reminding patients by an automated phone message or SMS text.
The service is just one of a range of additional services provided by NHS 24 and Chief Executive John Turner said in addition to supporting unscheduled care, NHS 24 offers a broad range of services for NHS Scotland, including a national source of quality assured health information via the telephone, web and digital television, telephone based emergency dental care, mental health services and support for those with musculoskeletal problems.
"Through the Scottish Centre for Telehealth and Telecare, NHS 24 works with Health Boards to provide technology based solutions to the health and care needs of the people of Scotland," he said.