Text reminder success

At the beginning of May, over 90% of specialities at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust went live with SMS appointment reminders for patients. The aims of the project were to improve communication with patients and reduce the number of patients failing to attend their appointments.

Teams from across the Trust worked together with Healthcare Communications to achieve a collective goal and rapidly deliver a successful solution, implementing a system which sends a text reminder seven days, and then again approximately 48 hours, before a patient is due to attend an appointment. For patients who have a landline number registered they will receive a voice message instead. The conversational messaging gives patients the option to confirm, cancel or rebook, reducing the number of calls to the Trust’s booking team.

Text reminders project team

Three months after implementing the system, the number of new patients not attending their first appointment reduced by 22%, and for follow up appointments this reduced by 14%. This meant that 3000 appointment slots from cancellations and rebookings could potentially be reused, therefore allowing more patients to be seen sooner.

This is just the start of a Trust-wide transformation journey to implement a full digital by default strategy. The next step in the programme is to introduce a new digital appointment letter system this Autumn, where patients with a registered mobile phone number will receive a text message containing a secure link to obtain their appointment letter via a patient portal. Patients can then within one click, confirm, cancel or arrange to rebook the planned appointment.

Ryan Calderbank, Deputy Divisional Director for Diagnostic and Support Services Division, said:

“I want to thank our Trust project team, who worked alongside Healthcare Communications, to deliver this project in five weeks; it was a great team effort. We’re now eager to roll out the Patient Engagement Portal and continue personalising communications for our patients’ needs.”

To find out more about patient reminders please visit our web page where you can find full details and frequently asked questions.

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