Virtual Workforce Winning the Battle Against Missed Appointments
Technology is now being used to cancel and re-allocate appointments automatically in ESNEFT NHS Trust’s patient records system.
All outpatients are sent a text which gives them the option to cancel their appointment. Now, a virtual worker – you can’t physically see it – is notified of a cancellation request by the Trust’s text reminder service.
It can then search for the patient and appointment – just like a human would – and notifies the clinic at Colchester Hospital. The free appointment can then be reallocated and the patient doesn’t receive a ‘did not attend’ (DNA) letter in error, something which can cause unnecessary stress.
Within the first 8 weeks, Virtual Workers have prevented 1,356 appointments from being missed. This means that the hospital has prevented wastage of £216,960. The estimated cost of a missed outpatient appointment in Colchester is £160 a time.
“Going on these early figures, over the course of a year, this process will offer 15,652 appointments back to our patients and avoid the NHS wasting just over £2.1m.
If we book people in to those free slots we can lower waiting times, see more patients and clinics are more productive.” ESNEFT Deputy ICT Director, Darren Atkins
From the Frontline:
Hundreds of hours saved for medical secretaries:
“We can be on the phones, writing letters or talking to patients, we’re more available. It gives you more time to be doing all the other things you have got to do.”
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