NHS Dumfries and Galloway are using technology to help speed up the region’s outpatient appointing system – and to cut down on waste.
An expanding number of outpatient clinics are starting to employ a text message in the first instance to help people schedule their appointment, including dermatology, general surgery, ENT, oral and maxillofacial, orthodontic, breast and neurology.
But letters will still be sent out to those who would prefer.
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.
“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.
“Providing people with information on their scheduled appointment as quickly as possible and them then being able to plan for their attendance is a real benefit, and this system allows people to confirm their attendance or reschedule. It also provides the potential to cut down on unnecessary production of appointment letters, with the associated costs and environmental impact.”
He added: “However, we’re very mindful that not everyone will have access to text messaging, and that this approach may not be for everyone. As a result, the system ensures that anyone who does not wish to adopt this approach will then still receive a traditional paper appointment letter in the post.”
The text recipient will provide their date of birth to log into the secure system and will then be asked questions to ascertain if they are able to attend the date and time provided.
If the patient cannot attend, the appointment will be rearranged. If no response is received, a traditional appointment letter will be sent out.
Mr Gault said: “We’re asking people to embrace this new way of working.”