L-R Heather Makiri, Jacqui Mitchell, Chrisse Farrow, Rodger Clarke and Gwendol Welburn celebrate Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki’s success in helping people attend specialist appointments at Thames Hospital. Photo supplied by: Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki
A simple solution to a costly problem has seen a Hauraki health provider reduce the number of people missing specialist hospital appointments by about 49 per cent – saving the public hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki has reduced its patient ‘did not attend’ (DNA) rates from 25.6 per cent in 2005 to 11.82 per cent last year.
Te Korowai kaiawhaina services co-ordinator Heather Makiri-Wi spends up to two hours a day phoning and texting up to 30 patients in an effort to ensure they make appointments.
She said patients do not turn up for several reasons such as lack of transport, fear or sometimes they just forget.
Makiri-Wi said a common problem is that many patients cannot afford to use their phones to cancel an appointment.
“If there was an 0800 number it would help,” she said.
The DNA phone and text monitoring programme was initiated by the hospital in 2005 with the DNA rate dropping from 25.6 per cent to 16 per cent the following year.
The programme ceased after a new computer system was installed at Thames Hospital but it was reactivated in 2011.
The efforts since then have led to the lowest recorded DNA rate.
Te Korowai general manger of operations Gwendol Welburn said the results show how important it is to follow up with patients.
“There is definitely a need for someone like Heather to do this,” she said.
Welburn said many people do not realise it costs the hospital about $375 per patient, $600,000 per year when they miss a scheduled appointment but more so it also delays treatment for someone else.
Outpatients manager Rodger Clark said the Ministry of Health expects everyone will receive a first specialist appointment within four months of being placed on the waiting list.
“It is frustrating when people do not attend appoints because that appointment could have been offered to someone else.”
He said paediatrics was one of the worst for DNAs with 45 per cent of December bookings unattended.
Thames Hospital and community service manager Jacquie Mitchell said people don’t realise the implications their actions have.
“We wait for a person to show up, someone we have invested a whole lot of time in and [then when they don’t] other people get frustrated because they miss out on an appointment or surgery.
“It could be your family or neighbour who misses out on an appointment,” she said.
However Mitchell is delighted at the success of Te Korowai’s monitoring programme and thanked all the staff for their efforts.
The average rate for DNAs in Thames is 9 per cent, about 1600 people, compared to 8 per cent across the Waikato DHB area.
Further work is being done to reduce those figures, including a weekend monitoring system.
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