Text to remind service – help to avoid missed appointments
Sept. 1, 2017
We hope this reminder will be a really useful service for our patients, clarifying appointment times and a gentle memory nudge. Most of you will have experienced similar text reminders from hairdressers, dentists and even the hospital. If you do not have a mobile phone we can send an email reminder instead.
This proactive measure has become necessary because of the increasing numbers of appointments that are sadly wasted. A group of patients simply fail to turn up to appointments (average 15-20 per week) or cancel at too short notice for the slot to be used by another patient (average 30 per week). This is equivalent to a clinician's time being wasted for 1 ½ days per week, a level that has become unsustainable. For the last 6 years we have tried to avoid penalties for this, and have just given polite reminders that we would appreciate adequate notification. It is with much regret that we have been forced to review this policy because it simply is not working. We greatly appreciate how the majority of our patients are very considerate and thoughtful about cancelling well in advance.
We know it is a major source of frustration to our patients when the doctor they want to see is unavailable. It is a major source of frustration to us that, actually, that doctor could have seen several more patients, if cancellations were made appropriately.
We ask that you kindly give us just 2 working hours' notice if you cannot attend an appointment. So, if you need to cancel an 8am appointment please cancel by 6pm the night before. This is just to give us a fair chance to offer the appointment to someone else who may really need it. Please cancel appointments by calling reception on 09 489 2011. Unfortunately, you cannot cancel appointments via the Health 365 portal or by responding to the text reminder as it is a no – reply service.
If, despite a reminder, you fail to attend an appointment or give us insufficient notice of a cancellation there will be a token $25 fee charged per appointment. So, if you have booked a double appointment and fail to attend there will be a $50 charge. The fee applies across the board, even for appointments that would have been free to the patient (e.g. for children, pregnant women, asthma clinics etc) purely because our funding claims cannot be made if there is a non-attendance. We are really hoping that the text to remind service is so successful that no one needs to be invoiced $25 for no shows or late cancellations. In our opinion, if we never have to charge this fee it would be a major success and our reception team would be very happy.
The text to remind service really only applies to those making appointments at least a day in advance, for example, appointments for management of long term health conditions, family planning, cervical smears, travel clinics and immunisations. It is not relevant to those booking an appointment for the same day for more urgent conditions, although the cancellation fee will still apply.
Thank you very much for your cooperation, we hope our change in policy will result in increased appointments becoming available for you to access if needed.
We would be very grateful if you could please take note of our new cancellation policy.
Please give us 2 working hours' notice of a cancellation by calling reception on 09 489 2011. This is the only way to cancel. Our friendly reception desk is open 8am to 8pm to help you.