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Bid to cut appointments by using ‘virtual clinics’
6:08pm Wednesday 29th August 2012 in Winchester
VIRTUAL clinics and the electronic monitoring of conditions are being used by Southampton hospital bosses in a bid to cut back on the number of patients needing appointments.
The latest technology is being employed to reduce the number of outpatient appointments in a bid to relieve the pressure on outpatient clinics after it was revealed that up to £5m is being wasted in Hampshire on those who fail to turn up in person.
As reported by the Daily Echo more than 35,000 patients failed to attend scheduled appointments last year at Southampton General Hospital with 10,000 appointments missed at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester .
Every year bosses in Southampton have to schedule about 420,000 appointments and as such are trying out new ways of reducing that number.
Along with introducing a centralised booking system, online cancellation forms have been set up as well as a text message reminder service.
Patients and GPs can book directly using an electronic booking system. Heart patients are also being monitored remotely, with 1,000 patients being fitted with an implantable cardiac defibrillator that sends back data – cutting the need for an additional 432 outpatient clinics every year.
A virtual clinic has also been set up for inflammatory bowel disease sufferers who can relay information and report symptoms or concerns without a face to face meeting.
Appointments that still require a patient to be seen are more valuable than ever, say hospital bosses, and they are calling on the public to ensure that they attend, or at least cancel in good time.
Jane Hayward, chief operating officer at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “With more than 420,000 patients requiring outpatient appointments alone each year, it is extremely important people informus if they are unable to make their hospital appointments so we can offer cancelled places to others, avoid wasting valuable clinic time and ensure the best use of NHS resources.
“Although our booking staff are extremely busy and we understand it can sometimes be difficult to get through on the telephone to cancel or change an appointment, we are constantly developing our systems and technology to make the process as convenient as possible.”
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