New Reminder Service Introduced To Help Reduce Missed Appointments

A new patient reminder service is being introduced by NHS Forth Valley to try to reduce the number of people who fail to turn up for their hospital appointments. In some outpatient clinics as many as one in ten patients fail to show up which not only wastes staff time and resources but can also lead to longer waiting times for others.

The new system, which will initially be trialled for outpatient appointments in gastroenterology, neurology and dermatology, will ensure patients automatically receive a telephone call around seven days before their appointment date. A recorded message will ask patients to confirm they are planning to attend or speak to member of staff if they want to change or cancel their appointment. A local telephone number (01324 566249) will appear on caller display to help avoid any potential confusion with unwanted sales or marketing calls.

A text message reminder will also be sent to patients with mobile phone numbers a few days before the appointment date as an additional reminder. If the initial trial is successful, the plan is to roll out the reminder system for all outpatient appointments at hospitals across Forth Valley.

The roll-out will enhance the patient-focused booking service already in use which enables patients to get in touch to arrange a suitable time for them, rather than being automatically allocated an appointment which they may be unable to keep.

NHS Forth Valley Health Records Services Manager Emma Hamilton said: “The introduction of this new reminder system should help reduce the number of people who fail to show up for an appointment because they have either forgotten or they can no longer attend.  Enabling patients to pick a date and appointment time which suits them will also help especially for those with specific work commitments, holidays or transport issues.”

Similar systems are already being used in several other Health Boards in Scotland.