Last year, there were over 5.5 million missed outpatient hospital appointments in the UK, costing the National Health Service (NHS) an estimated £800million.
Because of this, the Department of Health recently called for hospitals to make greater use of technology, such as Skype, to reduce the number of missed appointments.
Newham University Hospital, part of Barts Health NHS Trust, is a 379 bed hospital that serves one of Britain’s most diverse, fastest growing and youngest populations. The hospital had a particularly high DNA (‘do not attend’) rate for diabetes outpatient appointments – approximately 30-50%, depending on age. The high rate reflected the complex lives of many local patients, particularly from minority ethnic groups in one of the poorer boroughs of London.
The hospital, being firmly focused on meeting the needs and priorities of the local population, has tried to solve this by launching a program where diabetes patients who do not need a physical examination are seen via Skype.
The feedback on the program so far has been extremely positive – patients have found that the quality of care is the same as the face to face appointments. The hospital says that Skype is making a huge difference, with an 11 per cent drop in missed appointments already.
The UK health minister, Simon Burns, recently said: “I’m glad to see that the NHS is increasingly using simple ideas such as texting their patients before an appointment or seeing them via Skype. These could have a dramatic impact and I want to see more hospitals making use of them.”
We’re delighted to be helping both patients and clinicians in Newham, and look forward to hearing more about this program and similar ones across the globe.