Ultrasound improvements slash missed appointments
An improvement project from our imaging department has cut the number of missed appointments by more than half.
DNAs or ‘did not attends’ cost the NHS millions of pounds each year and take up valuable appointment slots that other people could use.
The ultrasound team were determined to address the issue and took a quality improvement approach from the outset.
The team explored all of the reasons why patients missed appointments, including patients not getting the correct appointment letters or being unable to contact the service to cancel their consultation, either due to technological barriers, such as phone numbers not being available, or short staffing in the bookings team.
The team knew that utilising all of the available appointments was important to see more patients and clear Covid backlogs.
They tested a number of approaches including Netcall, a customer service system that means the booking team can accept calls from wherever they are working.
The system has boosted patient experience by explaining to those on hold where they are in the queue.
The team also used text message reminders which gave patients details of their appointment, including the date, time and location, as well as an option for patients to cancel their appointment in advance, if unable to attend.
In just a few weeks, the team got their waiting lists back to pre-pandemic levels.
DNAs have dropped dramatically since the project began.
The team are determined to continue this great work and have shared their learning with other departments across the group.
Project lead Raja Javed said: “Patient communication is always key, but even more so during a pandemic. Netcall and text reminders have really helped with this.
“Previously the reminder calls were done manually and this meant patients were not always available to answer the phone during the day. With a text reminder which has all details of the appointment, patients can read at their convenience. It also means admin time can be spent on scheduling more patient appointments.
“It’s great to see the positive impact on the services and promising feedback from both the department and patients alike.”