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Eastern Health adding ultrasounds to automated notification system in effort to cut down ‘no shows’

Eastern Health
Eastern Health

Patients failed to turn up or cancel appointments over 4,500 times in 2016-17

ST. JOHN’S, NL – Eastern Health is expanding its automated notification system to include ultrasound appointments this month.

The notification system was piloted in the 12 endoscopy services departments throughout the province in 2016, in an attempt to cut down on the number of instances whereby patients didn’t show up for an appointment and also didn’t call in to cancel.

According to a news release from the health authority, starting Feb. 7, patients who have an ultrasound appointment will be notified by the method of their choosing – phone, email or text – a week beforehand.

“The introduction of automated notifications in the endoscopy service has worked very well, receiving positive feedback from both patients and staff alike,” said Ron Johnson, Eastern Health’s vice president and chief information officer.

“Ninety-five per cent of patients were satisfied with the automated reminder, indicating that it was easy to understand and provided enough notice to prepare for the appointment. Expanding to ultrasound and other services within diagnostic imaging, will build on that success, and make the appointment process more accessible and fair for everyone.”

During 2016-17, 4,586 of 54,598 scheduled ultrasound tests in the Eastern Health region were ‘no shows’.

“These missed appointments added up to more than 2,200 hours of lost scan time for patients, and $124,574.00 in unproductive technologist time,” Johnson said.

“Unanticipated ‘no shows’ don’t allow enough time to book someone else in that vacant appointment slot; furthermore, clerical staff must spend additional time re-scheduling the missed appointments – all of which can impact wait times for an important diagnostic service.”

Eastern Health says the automated notification system will be rolled out to additional areas throughout the regional health authorities, starting with CT scans, mammographies and MRI/PET scans within the field of diagnostic imaging in the coming months.

It’s expected the process will be completed this spring.

Eastern Health conducted a survey as part of an evaluation of the implementation of the automated notification system for endoscopy patients.

It revealed nearly three per cent had forgotten about their appointment before they received the reminder, which based on 40,000 provincial appointments per year, translates into the prevention of 1,200 no shows.

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