Doncaster hospitals to introduce new text reminder service

Patients at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) will soon benefit from a brand new text reminder service which will help them monitor and keep their clinical appointments as well as access service specific information.

Monday, 29th July 2019, 16:01 pm
Updated Monday, 29th July 2019, 16:10 pm
Rebecca Joyce has joined Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) as Chief Operating Officer

Known as ‘DrDoctor’, this new system will go-live Thursday 1 August within the Trust’s Ophthalmology, Gastroenterology and Respiratory services. All patients receiving a new appointment with the organisation will receive a text message containing all relevant details, as well as an invitation to use the new online portal.

Using a patient’s registered mobile number or email address, DrDoctor sends out regular reminders for upcoming appointments, while also providing a platform which contains all relevant information, maps and the ability to cancel or rearrange, should they need to.

Nationally, around one in 10 appointments made are missed every year in England, costing the health service millions of pounds. Unfortunately, DBTH is within the top 25% of all trusts in the country for patients not attending appointments, recording around 140 missed a day or 50,000 each year. Equating to around £6 million in lost funding annually for the local hospitals, in real-terms this wasted cash is the equivalent of 200 nurses, 747 hip replacements or 22,388 MRI scans.

To understand why this problem was occurring, in 2018 the Trust, alongside local partners in the NHS and Healthwatch Doncaster, spoke with over 1,600 residents to understand why so many appointments were being missed. Collated into a report published in the same year, around 38% said they had missed a date with the hospital, with many outlining the need for the Trust to implement technology in order to make cancelling or rearranging appointments more accessible.

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Leading a team to action this feedback, Emma Challans, Deputy Chief Operating Officer at the Trust, said: “Speaking with local residents it was clear that we need to revamp and modernise how we communicate with our patients. Having considered multiple different solutions to address this, we ultimately decided that a digital patient notification service was the right way to go. DrDoctor is incredibly easy-to-use, and will help our patients to make their hospital appointments, or alternatively rearrange them if the time is unsuitable.”

DrDoctor will be piloted shortly in a few areas around DBTH (Ophthalmology, Respiratory and Gastroenterology). After going live in these specialities, the organisation will then be able to roll-out to more services, with the current plan being to have everything in place by the end of 2019.

In preparation of the go-live, the Trust is asking patients to ensure that their contact details are up-to-date by contacting the reception desk of any service they currently use, as well as their GP practice.

Dr Mike Whiteside, Physician and Chief Clinical Information Officer at DBTH, said: “In order to get the most from DrDoctor, it is important that we have your most up-to-date contact details. That way the system will be able to send notifications over text or through email and you will be able to respond in turn.

“Projects such as this are incredibly exciting for the Trust. Ensuring we make the most of technology is key to our future success as an organisation and will undoubtedly help us to achieve our vision to be the safest Trust in England, outstanding in all that we do.”

The launch of DrDoctor forms part of DBTH’s ‘Digital Transformation programme, a scheme of work which is looking at making the most of new technologies in order to improve patient care, safety, experience and treatment.