Canadian hospital pioneers appointment reminders to cut no shows

In 2018, the Lennox and Addington County General Hospital in Ontario was the first customer to go live with Savience’s appointment reminder service, which is shown to dramatically cut the number of missed appointments or ‘no shows’.

No shows are a major headache for any hospital. It is a cost, a waste of resources, and does little to reduce waiting lists. The hospital had previously taken measures to slow the increase in missed appointments, which included phoning patients a few days before they were due. But this is labour intensive, costly and impractical in the long run.

One reason patients miss appointments is they simply forget, so a reminder in the days before is generally appreciated.

With Savience’s reminder service, patients receive text or email reminders, according to their preference. Fully integrated with Lennox’s Meditech hospital information system, reminders are sent automatically so reducing the administrative burden.

With the new service, the no show rate was reduced from 13.8% to 9.1% in the first six months. The hospital is confident of reducing this further as it signs up more patients to the reminder service.

Development partner
The Lennox and Addington team was instrumental in the design of the reminder service and has become a key development partner. The privacy and consent modules, now embedded in Savience Clarity, were developed here, with many hospitals worldwide now reaping the benefits of this work.

Savience’s solution was first installed at the 52-bed hospital in 2017 in just three months. The emergency department is open 24 hours a day and sees 26,000 patients a year. The hospital has installed three floor mounted kiosks for patients to check in by swiping their Ontario health card.

Patients were initially apprehensive about using the kiosks, not because of a phobia of technology, but because of a perception the technology would cost jobs. Many continued to queue at reception until it was explained that the initiative was to improve service quality, not cut jobs.

Project lead, Marie-France Paradis, says the goal was to give more time to people who need the time. ‘Reception staff now have the opportunity to provide assistance in a meaningful way, whereas before they were constantly under pressure and overloaded. It’s about delivering a better quality service to patients and a smoother journey.’

Six months after go live, 84% of patients routinely use kiosks to check in for appointments at diagnostic imaging. Based on a saving of 3 minutes per patient, the reception clerks are now able to give more time to those patients who need it.

In emergency care, 55% of patients check in using the kiosks. The time savings are impressive. Lennox calculates a saving of 339 hours of staff time in six months, based on a saving of 2 minutes per patient. Open 24 hours a day, the department deals with 26,000 patients a year.

Reducing duplicate records
Patients check in by swiping their Ontario health card, which has helped reduce the administrative overhead for emergency attendances enormously. Using the unique health number, Savience’s system instantly retrieves the patient record from Meditech. Previously, it was difficult to retrieve records so often a new patient registration was created instead. But this presented its own problems as it demanded a huge effort to then reconcile records and remove duplicates.

The waiting area is also unattended. Patient details are instantly displayed on the Meditech tracker board, negating the need for nurses to continually check the waiting room.

Wayfinding
As the building is complex, wayfinding was a major concern. To remedy this, the system prints an arrival ticket complete with directions, which has significantly improved the patient experience and reduced the time staff spend having to direct patients.

The result is a smoother patient journey and more time for direct patient care.

Lennox and Addington County General Hospital

The Lennox and Addington County General Hospital at Napanee in South Eastern Ontario provides general medicine and general surgery services, with the range of clinics continually expanding as the hospital grows.

The hospital currently has 52 beds: 24 active care, two palliative care, four intensive care and 22 long-term care convalescent care beds for rehabilitation. Outpatient clinics include gynaecology, general surgery, orthopaedics, urology, plastic surgery, paediatrics and internal medicine.

It also offers a comprehensive range of diagnostic services with a well-equipped laboratory and diagnostic imaging department.

There are currently 270 staff, including family physicians and specialists in emergency medicine and anaesthesia, general surgeons, radiologists, and visiting consultants.

Savience technology at Lennox and Addington

Savience is known largely for its patient check-in kiosks, but its technology goes far beyond that and includes queuing displays and wayfinding screens, printed directions, plus text, voice and email appointment reminders. There is also an online portal for patients to update demographic details and preferences or make, change and cancel appointments.

Another plus is the Savience solution is linked to the group’s Meditech hospital information system to update all registration information automatically, ensuring patient records are current and accurate.

The Savience applications employed include:

  • Clarity – for tracking patient flows through clinics
  • Check-in
  • CareExpress Lite
  • Reminder service
  • Clarion – for patient calling
  • Connect – for integration with the hospital information system
  • Patient Portal, convey mobile app
  • Boston Workstation

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