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Women wait less time for breast care appointments

Claire Coles

Claire Coles

Women waiting to see a breast care specialist at Waikato Hospital are now seen sooner than in the past because of an improvement in ‘did not attend’ rates by the Breast Care Centre.

Waikato DHB Breast Care manager Clare Coles said the service had increased the number of booked appointments and reduced ‘did not attend’ rates in the past two years.

“We have been tracking at less than 3 per cent of our appointments being missed since we introduced phoning women the day prior to their appointment,” she said.

Women are referred to the centre by their GP typically with a new breast symptom that needs investigating and some women may also be asked to return for a follow-up appointment after the initial investigation has occurred, said Coles.

With the demand for each appointment available always being higher than the actual capacity, it is vital that wastage of these appointments is kept to an absolute minimum to keep waiting times as short as possible.

The centre year to date has over delivered on contracted numbers seeing more than 25 new women and 60 returns per week.

It has four breast surgeons and three breast clinicians each working in one to three clinics per week.

In the three months since November last year, only eight women out of 1112 did not attend their appointments.

“The Breast Care Centre team leader started this [phoning women] as part of a several activities aimed to increase efficiency as a result of attending the Lean Thinking training.”

Coles said the team tested how efficient it was to call women by moving from calls to texts.

“Last month ourdid not attend rate shot up to 7.2 per cent. This is when we stopped phoning and texted women instead,” she said.

As a result the Breast Care Clinic team will be doing some more investigative data analysis to try and reduce the rate further while still best utilising resources.

Coles said while phoning women had not saved the service financially, it has impacted on being able to book appointments for other women sooner if an appointment was no longer needed.

“Women like to be able to re-book there and then if they are unable to attend a planned appointment when we ring and it gives us a chance to offer their appointment to someone who is waiting.”

 

 

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