How Text Messages Can Eradicate Waiting Times [United Kingdom]

Tom Whicher | The Guardian | April 16, 2014

An automated text messaging system can save time for staff and makes access to appointments easier for patients

Has there ever been a more explosive issue in the NHS than waiting times? Progress has been made in more recent times, but figures published by the government in March for the January period show a reversal of these hard-won improvements. Around 2.9 million people were waiting for treatment in the first month of 2014, up by 362,000 from January 2013.

Figures also show a rise in the number of patients in England who had not been treated within the NHS target of 18 weeks between referral to treatment, from 143,741 in January 2013, to 189,179 in 2014.

As one of the most high-profile targets in the NHS, managers are under pressure to throw resources at attempts to bring down breaches, such as employing extra staff to chase patients to ensure they attend, and often putting on extra clinics at a cost of around £600 a throw. Given that the average hospital runs around 200 extra clinics, this bill could end up at an extra £100,000 a year. Even if individual hospitals are able to meet targets in this way, it's clear that these methods are unsustainable given the unrelenting squeeze on NHS finances...