Blog 18 February 2020

Clinic utilisation – Going beyond ‘did not attends’

by Jonathan Rapley

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Did not attends in the NHS

Your Trust is being forced to do more with less. Here’s how the Patient Hub can help you go beyond ‘did not attends’.

Over the last decade, clinic utilisation has boiled down to one job – reducing did not attends (DNAs). Dozens of Trusts across the UK have spent millions of pounds tackling this one specific task.

And this makes sense in a way – did not attends are a major drain on efficiency and a budgetary blackhole for hospitals.

But they’re only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to clinic utilisation.

You don’t just want to identify gaps in your schedule. You want to proactively and automatically fill those gaps with patients on your waiting list.

Challenges of a flexible waiting list
There are two challenges to overcome here:

  • You need to make it easy for patients to manage their appointments so they keep you in the loop
  • And you need an overview of patient interactions so you can get accurate data about attendance

Most clinics are focused on addressing the first challenge with SMS. They send patients a text asking them to confirm or reschedule their appointment.

This makes sense in theory – SMS is proven to be the best way to trigger interactions with patients. But it’s not the best way to manage multi-message conversations. Patients don’t want to swap messages back and forth just to reschedule an appointment.

Redirecting patients to a digital portal is a smarter alternative. These empower patients to book or reschedule appointments in one interaction. They can host a range of features that add value to the patient experience.

But there’s often an issue with these tools – they create data silos. Valuable patient data, which could be used to improve clinic utilisation, becomes trapped in the system and doesn’t get shared around the Trust.

Improving clinic utilisation with Patient Hub
We’ve created our Patient Hub to solve this problem. It’s a browser-based patient portal that’s seamlessly integrated with the other communications channels patients use to contact clinics.

Here’s how it works.

New patients receive an SMS with a link to the portal and a verification code. They can use this to securely set up their account and get started.

Once logged in, they can confirm, cancel and rebook their appointments themselves by selecting times and dates on a calendar.

So far, so typical. But we’ve also added a number of features to enhance the patient experience and support better clinic utilisation.

For example, patients can access useful information about parking, transport and building access. They can also complete important paperwork and pre-op surveys.

Your people can also reach out through the portal. Administrators can trigger custom notifications that remind patients of upcoming appointments and share important details about procedures. For example, you can remind a pre-op patient to bring food samples to their appointment.

But the real benefit of the Patient Hub lies in its integration with the rest of your booking centre. This means that patients can seamlessly switch channels when they need to. So if someone can’t find an appointment time that works for them, they can call your hospital without leaving the browser.

More importantly, it also solves the problem of siloes. All patient interaction data, from all communication channels, flows into the same system so agents have a single view of attendance data. This means they can make informed decisions when rescheduling appointments and juggling waiting lists.

So if Patient A calls to say they’re going to miss their appointment, you can offer the same slot to Patient B via the Patient Hub immediately. They can also reach out to chronic “no shows” well in advance of appointments to get ahead of did not attends.

A new paradigm
The benefits of the Patient Hub go far beyond a flexible waiting list. An integrated booking centre allows you to achieve two huge goals:

  • Improved patient service – as waiting lists become shorter and the booking and rebooking experience becomes smoother
  • Greater efficiency – as resources are redeployed quickly and easily as and when appointments move around

These are the types of benefits that resonate beyond a clinic and throughout a Trust.

Chesterfield Royal Hospital is discovering this firsthand as their Patient Hub rolls out.

Read more about why they chose Patient Hub.


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