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Yeovil Hospital patients will have greater control over their appointments from this week, thanks to a new online- and text-based appointments management system.

Each year, around 5.4m* hospital appointments are missed by patients across the country, at a cost of more than £700m to the NHS. Many of these appointments (referred to as ‘did not attends’) are missed because a patient simply forgets to attend or because something changes within their personal life. Many hospitals UK-wide still rely on communications with patients by letter and phone, while in every other walk of life online digital services play a major part in allowing everyone to take personal control and self-manage.

Now, Yeovil Hospital, nationally regarded as a pioneering Hospital Trust, is rolling out a new online- and text-based appointments management system that will give people the option of making, cancelling and managing appointments from the comfort of their own home or on-the-go. The system will run alongside the current paper- and telephone-based system, to widen the choice available to people of how to get in touch.

If a patient is referred to Yeovil Hospital by their GP, they can be updated on the progress of their referral and receive diary reminders via email or text.

The system will also help reduce waiting times; should the patient’s circumstances change, they can quickly reschedule via the online portal. The patient’s original slot immediately becomes available to other patients on the same waiting list.

Less than 24-hours after the service was introduced (on Monday, 7 Dec) more than 1,000 booking confirmations and 200 booking reminders have been sent through the service.

Tim Scull, Medical Director for Yeovil Hospital said: “Coming to hospital for an appointment can be a worrying experience, and it can also be difficult to fit in appointments around a busy work or home life.

“This is a simple way of using technology to improve the experience for all of our patients. With just a few clicks on a computer our patients will be able to take control of their appointments at Yeovil Hospital, 24 hours and day, seven days a week.

“If you are able to make an appointment at a time that suits you, you’re far less likely to need to cancel it or forget to attend. In turn, that means our consultants, doctors, nurses, therapists and other clinical staff can plan and use their time as effectively as possible to care for more people.”

The first phase of the new system started yesterday, by sending reminder text messages to patients about their appointments. This will be followed by the full online booking service. Eventually it will support the entire patient journey through the hospital from initial referral through to treatment and discharge.

Making the most of the new system is easy for patients; all they need to do is provide either their GP or Yeovil Hospital with their email address and mobile phone number which can then be used to allow online and text based services.

Yeovil will be one of only a handful of NHS Trusts to implement the vision set out for the NHS and make services accessible through electronic means, providing an alternative method of healthcare engagement, greatly improving access for the people of Somerset and North Dorset.

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This post was written by Helen Stobbs

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