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Saturday, 15 February, 2003, 00:03 GMT
Mobiles help patients keep hospital dates
Text messaging
Patients said the scheme provided a vital prompt
An innovative scheme to use text messaging to remind patients of their hospital appointments has proved a great success.

The Homerton Hospital, in London, found that 40% of patients going to their sexual health clinic failed to keep appointments, leading to wasted NHS resources.

But texting them two days before they were due at the hospital proved a timely reminder.

One patient quizzed by the hospital said the text messages were a vital prompt.

"I wouldn't have missed my last appointment if I'd been sent a text."

Success

General manager Dipak Duggal, who came up with the idea, said it had been a great success with patients.

He said it had proved so popular it was already being extended to other areas of the hospital.

"The higher level of patient satisfaction in itself justifies extending the scheme.

"This technology is really opening up doors and we are using it to test other ideas too; such as texting the next three patients on the waiting list for short notice ultrasound appointments when cancellations are received in X-ray."

I wouldn't have missed my last appointment if I'd been sent a text

A patient

"Medi-text" is also being extended to the outpatients department and to surgical pre-admissions.

Surgical has a do not attend rate of 15% and X-ray has 20-25% of its patients failing to turn up.

The hospital said the scheme had only been running for three months so it was too early to say what effect the texting was having on cutting the number of missed appointments.

But they said patients had certainly welcomed the text reminders.

Interest

Mr Duggal said the scheme was already prompting interest from other hospitals.

"I've been contacted by trusts from all over the country, as well as hospitals abroad, since the scheme got off the ground.

"They are impressed that we had the initial concept and have really set the ball in motion."

See also:

22 Jul 02 | Health
12 Jul 02 | Wales
10 Apr 02 | Wales
08 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
31 May 01 | Education
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