Missed appointments reducing at local hospitals thanks to text reminder service

Patients at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) are now benefiting from a brand new text reminder service, which helps them to monitor and keep their clinical appointments as well as access service specific information.

Known as ‘DrDoctor’, this new system launched on 1 August within the Trust’s Ophthalmology, Gastroenterology and Respiratory services and has so far sent thousands of messages, reminding patients about upcoming hospital dates. The system has been so successful that Doncaster Royal Infirmary’s Ophthalmology service has seen missed appointments reduce by more than half, with its average ‘did not attend’ rate going for 13.5% to just 7% in one month.To help ensure the continued success of this project, the Trust is urging patients to ensure that their contact details are up-to-date by contacting the reception desk of any service they currently use, checking your details via check-in at our electronic kiosks, as well as their GP practice.

Dr Mike Whiteside, Physician and Chief Clinical Information Officer at DBTH, said: “In order to get the most from DrDoctor, it is important that we have your most up-to-date contact details. That way the system will be able to send notifications over text and you will be able to respond in turn.

Nationally, around one in 10 appointments made 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.

With early successes and positive engagement from patients, the Trust intends to roll-out DrDoctor  within ENT, Trauma and Orthopaedics, Gynaecology, Obstetrics and Midwifery on 2 September 2019.

Dr Whiteside continued: “Projects such as this are incredibly exciting for the Trust. Ensuring 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.