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Message broadcast solution helps NHS Trusts reduce Did Not Attend costs

Telephonetics VIP : 20 January, 2011  (Special Report)
Data published by the NHS Information Centre again highlights the costly issue of “DNAs” (did not attends) and shows that for 2009/10 nearly 6.7 million or 7.9 percent of the 84.2 million outpatient appointments were missed.
This is an increase on the previous year when the figure was around six million DNAs.

Missed outpatient appointments cost the NHS around 600 million each year. It has been calculated that the first outpatient appointment costs an average of 156 and the second appointment averages out at 76.

Telephonetics VIP has successfully worked with several NHS Trusts across the UK to reduce DNAs using the company’s Remind+ message broadcast solution. Remind+ delivers recorded messages to patients quickly and easily via speech based interaction and logs the patient’s intention to attend. Staff are then able to re-allocate cancelled appointment slots, saving time and money and helping reduce waiting lists. If required, SMS messaging can also be used.

In April 2010, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, which handles 260,000 outpatient appointments every year, rolled out the solution across most outpatient specialities and now contacts around 1,000 patients a day, with the following results:

Approximately 800 less DNAs per month.
This equates to a monthly financial saving of 72,000.

The average time that patients spend waiting on the outpatients’ appointment phone line has also been reduced this year from an average of six minutes in February to less than two minutes.

After the Reminder System has been rolled out to all outpatient areas at Chelsea and Westminster it will be extended to admissions and community services to help reduce the DNA rate in these areas.

Alex Prior, Outpatient Service Improvement Lead said: “The potential financial benefit in admissions is likely to be even greater than in outpatients, due to the high cost of wasted operating theatre time.”

“Our statistics have shown a clear reduction in our DNA rate and our staff have also noticed a tangible effect. I have received comments from departments that they have noticed a substantial reduction in DNAs.”

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been using Remind+ for almost two years to manage reminders for 850,000 appointments annually across 54 site specific specialties. The initial trial involving 19 specialities was very successful. The DNA rate reduced by an average of 20 percent which equated to a projected 460,000 annual saving for the specialities that had been involved in the trial.

After five weeks of using Remind+, the Trust identified that the solution had already paid for itself.

Paul Harriman, Assistant Director said: “Our DNA rate has dropped enabling us to utilise approximately 17,000 otherwise lost appointments. Those appointments for us are probably worth around about 1.7 million pounds since the solution was implemented.”

Clare Goodwin, Health Sales Manager at Telephonetics VIP commented: “Remind+ automatically contacts patients to jog their memory about their appointment. It can then ask the patient to respond to a simple question to confirm if they will attend or if they need to rebook. This information is captured and logged so that staff can arrange for an alternative appointment and the now vacant slot can be re-allocated, so helping to reduce waiting lists.”

“Trusts have used various methods to reduce DNAs such as text messaging, letter and one-to-one calling. These have had some benefits but none have been cost effective or resolved the problem. Remind+ has demonstrated at Chelsea and Westminster, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and other Trusts across the UK, that it’s a proven and cost effective solution that reduces DNAs, waiting lists and improves the patient experience.”
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