Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB) has re-introduced the text message reminder service to support patients and help them avoid missing appointments.
The service was suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the health board has re-started the service on a phased basis, beginning with scheduled care.
Prior to the pandemic, the text message service proved to be an effective and popular tool to enhance the patient experience, reduce waiting times, improve communications with patients, as well as save money.
Andrew Carruthers, Director of Operations at Hywel Dda UHB, “The health board fully understands the difficulties people have faced in accessing services due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. We are working extremely hard at all levels within the health board to return to normalcy. While we recognise it will take time to get there, particularly as we continue to work within tight COVID-19 guidelines, we ask for the public’s patience and support.
“One of the key priorities for the health board going forward is to reduce waiting times. In order to help us do this, it’s really important that patents attend their confirmed appointments or notify us if they are unable to so it can be rearranged, and the original appointment slot used for someone else. Prior to the pandemic, the text message service made a noticeable impact on reducing the number of missed appointments, and as we look to scale up capacity again, we feel confident now is the right time to begin re-introducing the service.
“Patients who miss appointments risk being discharged, so it’s absolutely vital that people attend all appointments. If people are unable to attend their appointments, they must contact their service provider as soon as possible in order to re-schedule.
“While the service has proved to be popular with patients, people can opt out if they choose. Additionally, the service will not replace paper appointment letters, which will continue to be posted to patients.”