Text messaging brings advantages to outpatient appointment system

Technology is being used to help speed up the region's outpatient appointing system - and to cut down on waste.

Monday, 3rd January 2022, 2:49 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd January 2022, 2:49 pm
The new text messaging appointing system has gone live

An expanding number of outpatient clinics are starting to employ a text message in the first instance to help people schedule their appointment.

However, recognising that this will not be appropriate for everyone, a letter setting out appointments will still be sent out to those who do not wish to take up this opportunity.

General manager of Information Management and Technology, Graham Gault, said: “Technology has the potential to deliver real advancements to the patient experience right across the whole of health and social care.

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“In the same way that text messages are now fairly commonly used by GP and dental practices to alert people to upcoming appointments, an increasing number of our outpatient clinics are now moving to this option.

“However, we’re very mindful not everyone will have access to text messaging, and this approach may not be for everyone. As a result, the system ensures anyone who does not wish to adopt this approach will still receive a paper appointment letter in the post.”

Someone who receives a text message appointment will be asked to provide their date of birth in order to log into the secure system.

They will then be asked questions in relation to their appointment, and if they are able to attend the date and time provided.

If the patient accepts, the process will be complete and they will then be offered the opportunity to add the appointment to their smart phone diary.

If the patient responds to say they cannot attend, the appointment will be rearranged.

If no response is received, a traditional paper appointment letter is despatched to the patient.

Outpatient clinics for Dermatology, General Surgery, ENT, Oral and Maxillofacial, Orthodontic, Breast and Neurology have been among the first to adopt this new appointing feature, but the system continues to be expanded.

Mr Gault said: “We’re asking people to embrace this new way of working, which will hopefully become more convenient and more appropriate for the service.”