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Success for hospital text service as attendance rates rise

09 September 2010

Women in Jersey are attending more colposcopy appointments at Jersey’s General Hospital thanks to the success of a ‘text reminder’ service.

The Do Not Attend (DNA) rate has dropped by more than half, meaning that more women are attending colposcopy clinic appointments and less money is being wasted through patients not turning up for booked appointments. The service was introduced in January for all women booked to attend a follow-up colposcopy appointment and was the idea of Sister Anne Howell, a clinical practitioner in colposcopy at the hospital’s Rayner Ward.

Sister Anne Howell explained how the reminder service was tested. “A control group of patients was set up made up of 270 women, of whom 41 did not attend their appointment. A study group was also set up which consisted of 186 women, all of which were sent text reminders and only 12 did not attend.

“Reasons for not attending for the 12 patients that received text messages include people having a history of not attending, 2 text messages failing, one person had left the island, and one message being sent but not delivered.

“These reasons are all genuine, and so we can look at the data and say there is a 1.6% true DNA rate, which is excellent. We have had really good feedback from patients about the service, and patients have commented on how useful they find the reminders."

The service has also been nominated for a Health and Social Services Quality Award. The awards recognise and reward staff who have delivered significant improvements in service quality

Sister Howell added “Colposcopy supports the early detection and treatment of cervical diseases. The introduction of this reminder service has been in response to increasing numbers of missed colposcopy appointments. It has improved colposcopy clinic attendances, reduce waiting times and importantly, the wellbeing of women on the island." 

Patients who wish to receive a text reminder stating ‘Don’t forget your hospital appointment on ….day’ will be sent this a few days prior to the scheduled appointment. They can also text back one of the following responses:

  • I wish to confirm my appointment
  • I wish to cancel my appointment
  • I would like to speak to the nurse colposcopist / gynaecology nurse

Explaining the idea behind the text service, head of nursing at the General Hospital, Gary Kynman, said “The service maintains patient confidentiality and is entirely voluntary. A colposcopy is a diagnostic out-patients procedure which allows a more detailed look at the cervix using a specialised high magnification microscope.

“Its purpose is to aid the detection and importantly treat diseases of the cervix. On average, about 350 women are referred to the colposcopy service each year, though there is an average of 14% of all women (inclusive of follow up appointments) who do not attend their appointment.

“A review showed that some women fail to attend their appointment for genuine clinical reasons, but the majority either forget, or do not inform the clinic that they are unable to attend. This has lead to a number of missed slots per clinic which could have been used for other women who are waiting for an appointment, and help reduce waiting times for all women.”

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