SMS reminders reduce cancelled colonoscopy appointments by 28% at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (KCH) is reducing the backlog of colonoscopy procedures after implementing Healthcare Communications’ digital pre-procedure preparation SMS reminders.
And, over six months, the implementation has resulted in a 28% reduction in cancelled colonoscopies, with projected savings of £130,000 annually, while significantly tackling backlogs and helping patients receive more-efficient care.
It is estimated that 5% of colonoscopies are incomplete due to patients failing to follow pre-procedure instructions.
This leads to wasted appointment slots, repeat procedures, delays in treatment, and contributes to longer waiting times for other patients.
By implementing this digital solution, KCH has effectively tackled the problem, resulting in significant improvements for patients and the hospital.
There is a national shortage of colonoscopy and endoscopy capacity, and so we can ill afford to waste appointments
Patients receive a standard automated SMS reminder 14 days in advance of their appointment, followed by reminders seven days, three days, and 48 hours prior to the procedure.
These communications also include detailed video instructions ensuring patients are well prepared for their colonoscopy.
Additional reminders are sent at 24 or 22 hours before the appointment to reinforce the importance of following the pre-procedure instructions.
And these reminders are scheduled in accordance with patient’s scan time, so patients are able to complete instructions at the correct time, reducing the number of patients coming to appointments unprepared.
KCH and Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust successfully partnered to secure funding from NHSX for this joint project aimed at reducing wasted slots and repeat procedures caused by poor bowel preparation.
The two-year plan, supported by Healthcare Communications, has now become a routine process through successful implementation.
Dr Mayur Kumar, consultant gastroenterologist and clinical lead for endoscopy at KCH, said: “There is a national shortage of colonoscopy and endoscopy capacity, and so we can ill afford to waste appointments.
By leveraging technology and ensuring effective communication, we are collectively improving patient outcomes and addressing the challenges faced by healthcare providers
“It is absolutely vital that each and every appointment slot is utilised effectively.
“The majority of cancers are diagnosed through colonoscopies; it’s an incredibly-important and life-saving procedure which is used to diagnose many patient conditions, so it needs to be used as efficiently and time sensitively as possible.”
To ensure the success of the initiative, surveys were conducted to gauge patient preferences across all demographics.
This proved that digital literacy was not a hindering factor, even among elderly patients as it was found that 83% of patients agreed to use digital communications across all age groups.
For those patients who do not have, or feel comfortable using, a smartphone, paper appointment letters were offered as an alternative and sent via post.
Kenny Bloxham, managing director of Healthcare Communications, said: “By leveraging technology and ensuring effective communication, we are collectively improving patient outcomes and addressing the challenges faced by healthcare providers.
“The successful implementation of digital patient communications at KCH represents a significant step forward in streamlining healthcare processes, enhancing patient experiences, and ultimately saving lives.”