Cancelling appointments via text is attractive for both patients and practices. Patients do not have to call up the practice switchboard and wait to talk to someone - they simply reply with the word 'cancel' as a response to an appointment reminder. Similar to when patients book and cancel appointments on-line, practices have the capability to systematically free up appointments through iPLATO's new 'Auto Cancellation' feature. The obvious advantage of text messaging over password restricted web-services, of course, is the broad usage of text messaging and the immediacy of the mobile channel.
Appointment cancellation timing is key for improving access to GP services and avoiding A&E.
To better understand the process of using digital communication to systematically free up urgent GP appointments, iPLATO Research recently studied the anonymised transaction flow of some practices that use ‘Auto Cancellations’ combined with 'iPLATO best practice' of reminding patients about upcoming appointment three days before the event. In this research we sought to evaluate how quickly patients cancel along with the ability of the practice to offer the cancelled appointment to another patient. We define an urgent GP appointment as the ability to see a GP within 48 hours or less from the initial request. A 'green' cancellation frees up the appointment 72 to 48 hours before the event. This is the ideal scenario as it is highly likely (80% or above) that the appointment can be reused by another patient. An 'amber' cancelation frees up the appointment between 48 and 24 hours before and a ‘red’ cancellation frees up the appointment less than 24 hours before the event.
From the studies iPLATO Research concluded that 71% of all cancellations were green, 10% were amber and 19% red, meaning that a significant majority of patients who use text messaging to cancel their appointment do so in time to free up an urgent GP appointment. Indeed, over 6 in 10 patients cancelled within twelve hours after receiving the reminder. This research also largely dispels the myth of the cheeky patient who cancels in the very last moment as only 5% of all text cancellations arrived less than 1 hour before the appointment.
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iPLATO Healthcare is British innovation company dedicated to mHealth and Analytics since 2006.
iPLATO's evidence based mobile health solutions have proven to improve patient access to healthcare, to enable powerful health promotion targeted at people at risk and to support people with long term conditions.
Serving millions of patients and thousands of healthcare professionals every day iPLATO has emerged as the leader in mobile health. Across this network the company is running campaigns to promote smoking cessation, weight loss, childhood immunisation and pandemic awareness as well as mobile disease management services for people with diabetes, hypertension, epilepsy and HIV.
iPLATO Healthcare's mission is to, in partnership with clinicians, help healthcare commissioners transform patient care through cloud based mHealth and Analytics.