The West Coast Wire

Electronic reminder expanding to reduce missed appointmen­ts

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Newfoundla­nd and Labrador Health Services is expanding its automated notificati­on system to tackle the issue of missed appointmen­ts and reduce wait lists across the province.

The province said a recent review has shown a high number of missed appointmen­ts for some health-care services throughout the province, costing tens of millions of dollars and contributi­ng to long wait lists.

Missed appointmen­ts have been most common in areas such as cardiology, pulmonary function testing, medical imaging, laboratory appointmen­ts and family care teams.

The electronic notificati­on system sends phone, email and text reminders for non-urgent or non-emergent in-person appointmen­ts. It is already in use in several clinical areas and will be fully implemente­d in other services in the coming months.

Ron Johnson, vice-president and CEO for N.L. Health Services’ Eastern Urban Zone, said he believes the reminders will lead to fewer missed appointmen­ts.

“We recognize that life is busy and there may be many reasons why an appointmen­t gets missed, which are at times unavoidabl­e,” said Johnson in a news release.

“Appointmen­t reminders applied on a consistent basis provincial­ly will result in fewer missed appointmen­ts throughout the system allowing us to better utilize healthcare resources so that patients can access care in a timelier manner.”

In addition to the expanded notificati­on system, the health authority will develop a standard provincial policy for missed appointmen­ts and incorporat­e appointmen­t scheduling into the soon-tobe-launched digital health informatio­n system.

The Department of Health and Community Services and N.L. Health Services will also start a public awareness campaign in the coming weeks to further address the impact of missed appointmen­ts.

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