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New text messaging service for Hospital colposcopy appointments

06 January 2010

The Division of Surgery has launched a new appointments reminder service for women attending colposcopy appointments at the General Hospital. This service starts in January 2010 and will be offered to women who are scheduled for a follow up appointment.

A colposcopy is a diagnostic out-patients procedure which facilitates 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 350 women are referred to the General Hospital colposcopy service each year though there is an average of 14% of all women (inclusive of follow up appointments) who do not attend (DNA) their appointment. A review of this has shown some women fail to attend their appointment for genuine clinical reasons, but the majority either forget, or do not inform the health department 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 a future colposcopy appointment, and help reduce waiting times for all women.

Colposcopy nurse specialist, Sr Anne Howell, said: "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 is envisaged the new service will improve colposcopy clinic attendances, reduce waiting times and importantly, the wellbeing of women on the Island."

Currently, all women since September 2009 who have attended the colposcopy service have been offered the opportunity to consent to being part of the text messaging service. For those patients who wish to be sent a text a reminder "Don’t forget your hospital appointment on ….day" will be sent a few days prior to the scheduled appointment. In addition there is the capability to text back a response by texting:

1. I wish to confirm my appointment
2. I wish to cancel my appointment
3. I would like to speak to the nurse colposcopist/gynaecology nurse

We would like to reassure patients that the service will maintain patient confidentiality and is entirely voluntary. The service will commence on 11 January 2010
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