With NHS England revealing that more than 15 million GP appointments are being wasted each year because patients do not turn up, surgeries should find easier ways of reminding patients of their appointment time/date or making it easier for them to contact the surgery to cancel them.
There are around 307 million sessions scheduled with GPs, nurses, therapists and other practice staff every year and 5% – one in 20 – are missed without enough notice to invite other patients. That works out as around 15.4 million missed appointments.
Around 7.2 million are with busy family doctors, which adds up to more than 1.2 million GP hours wasted each year – the equivalent of more than 600 GPs working full time for a year.
Each appointment costs an average of £30, putting the total cost to the NHS at more than £216 million.
These are alarming statistics and while raising awareness will go some way to help drive down did-not-attends (DNAs), there is technology that can help too.
Just as I receive a text reminder from my dentist, this same functionality can also be used by general practice, as long as they have up-to-date mobile numbers for their patients. However, this can be tricky if patients change their mobile numbers.
However, there are general practice contact management apps that integrate with patient management software, such as EMIS, SystmOne and Vision Health, and automatically verify, capture and update mobile numbers when a patient calls in. This means that text reminders can be effectively used to drive down DNAs.
In addition, contact management apps, such as PatientConnect from Oak Innovation, can reduce call queuing. Conversations that are more efficient mean patients will have more chance of getting through when they need to, even if that means they are calling to cancel an appointment. Patient records pop up as they call in, allowing receptionists to deal with their query with more information at their fingertips.
With budgets always tight in the healthcare sector, practice managers may baulk at investing in technology like this. However, the return on investment will be readily identifiable by comparing the cost of the app to the decrease in DNAs and subsequent increase in revenue.
You can find out more about general practice contact management apps in this brochure or you can view our new short video here. We can add an app like this onto your current phone system for a monthly cost rather than using precious capital.