The UK’s Royal Free Hospital is launching a text messaging service enabling appointments for its genito-urinary medicine and sexual health clinics to be booked confidentially and out of hours.
The application was developed by UK-based software firms Avanquest and Softcare Medical, and Computer Communications Limited.
Under recent department of health directives, GUM and sexual health clinics are required to offer all patients appointments within 48 hours, but patients are often unable or unwilling to call or visit their local clinic during working hours, or, if they do, cannot get through telephone queues quickly enough.
The new system gives patients a number to text, from which they are offered three appointments over 48 hours. The patient responds by selecting the most convenient appointment, which is confirmed with a booking reference.
The system operates in two modes: a manually operated 24-hour booking service where appointments can be booked by phone call, text message or by a browser interface. Booked appointments and available slots are uploaded from the system to the clinic software each half day.
The automated out of hours booking service operates when the clinic is closed by making available slots over the following 48-hour period available by SMS booking or via a web browser. Booked appointments and available slots are uploaded from the system to the clinic software at the start and end of each working day.
A spokesperson from Avanquest told E-Health Insider, Texting is getting more popular in the UK. Twenty-eight billion were sent in the UK last year…It makes sense to use these for hospital appointments and the trial in the sexual health department should demonstrate this.