New Digital Pre-procedure Prep Reminder Solution Significantly Reduce Cancelled Colonoscopy appointments by 28% at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (KCH) has successfully implemented Healthcare Communications’ digital pre-procedure preparation SMS reminders which is helping to reduce the backlog of colonoscopy procedures. Over 6 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.

The introduction of SMS digital reminders has helped address a critical issue within colonoscopy procedures. 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 solution, KCH has effectively tackled the problem, resulting in significant improvements for patients and the hospital.

Automated SMS messages provide appointment reminders and pre-procedure instructions to patients. Patients receive a standard 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. These reminders are scheduled in accordance with patient’s scan time, so that 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- (PRUH) at KCH, emphasised the importance of utilising every appointment slot efficiently, stating: “There is a national shortage of colonoscopy and endoscopy capacity, and so we can ill-afford to waste appointments. It is absolutely vital that each and every appointment slot is utilised effectively. 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 digital communications 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. It was found that 83% of patients agreed to use digital communications across all age groups. For those patients who don’t have or feel comfortable using a smartphone, paper appointment letters are offered as an alternative and are sent via post.

King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust carries out approximately 20,000 colonoscopy procedures annually across its two sites. With the implementation of this new digital communication process, the trust expects to further streamline operations, reduce cancellations, and improve overall patient care.

Kenny Bloxham, Managing Director of Healthcare Communications, expressed his satisfaction with the successful partnership and its positive impact: “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. We hope that this project at KCH will serve as a model for other healthcare organisations seeking to improve efficiency and tackle backlogs in patient care.”


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