WDHB Outpatients Department introduces text message reminders

Wanganui Hospital's Outpatients Department is introducing a text message reminder system to tackle missed appointments head on.
From this week, patients with cell phones will receive a short text message the day before their scheduled Outpatient/Pre-admission appointment to remind them of the day and time they’re expected.
Statistics show, on average, one in every 10 people miss their medical appointments – a major problem for public and private hospitals worldwide.  

Outpatients Nurse Manager Jan Denman says missed appointments mean extra work for staff and additional expense for the WDHB which is doing all it can to reduce costs and the overall deficit.

“It’s very disheartening for our staff to see missed appointments. It’s time that could be given to other patients needing initial or follow-up appointments with Outpatients,” Mrs Denman says.

“We know some people genuinely forget and we hope a text reminder will help those people. For those who don’t have a cell phone, our staff will endeavour to call their landline but because of the sheer volume of calls this entails, it’s not always possible.

 “If someone genuinely can’t make it to an appointment a call to the patient scheduling team is much appreciated. Call 3481234 and ask the telephonist for the outpatients service you are attending.”

Mrs Denman says Outpatients had contracted Auckland-based Vensa Personal Health (VPH) to install a text message service called TXT2Remind.

Leading up to the installation, Outpatients administration staff had spent many hours updating patient information demographics to include cell phone numbers.