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Mobile and Wireless Services For Outpatients
Wireless Healthcare, April 2005, Pages: 21
Government health departments are still waiting for a return on large investments in IT infrastructure. However a simple mobile phone based service is already having an impact on hospital performance data. Outpatient clinics, that are using SMS based appointment reminder systems, are seeing a reduction in missed appointments or ‘Did Not Attend’ (DNAs).
Revenues from SMS patient reminder services will grow steadily over the next five years. Theoretically, if every patient were sent a text message reminding them of their appointment, UK mobile communications providers would receive revenues in excess of £20 million per annum from healthcare related text messaging. However health providers will face a major challenge migrating more than a small proportion of patients from paper based systems to the current generation of mobile services.
This report reveals that outpatient clinics that deployed SMS patient reminder systems saw DNA rates fall by up to 30% even though less than 20% of patients chose to use the service. Text message based reminder systems have been successful from day one because the demographic profiles of persistent DNAs and mobile phone users are similar. However this means users could see diminishing returns as reminder services are expanded.
SMS patient reminder services provide mobile communications vendors with an ideal entry point into the healthcare IT market. Wireless and mobile vendors who establish themselves in this market should be able to leverage their position by adding services, such as patient support and medication reminder and compliance monitoring, to their existing messaging platform. This report points to evidence that this is already happening in the field of mental healthcare where outpatient clinics and social services are under political pressure to ensure that patients keep appointments and comply with medication regimes. This report also sees a number of established IT vendors adding patient reminders to the list of outsourced services they offer hospitals.
This report also examines sales of patient paging systems could come under pressure as restrictions on the use of mobile phones in hospitals are lifted. In the future text-messaging vendors could provide systems that inform patients waiting within the outpatient clinic that the consultant is ready to see them. The ease with which patient paging can be deployed, and its relatively low cost, have been instrumental in the rapid growth in sales of systems to outpatient clinics. While patient paging is currently marketed as a technology that improves the patient’s experience of the outpatient care process, it could, when integrated with Patient Administration Systems (PAS), also be used to increase a hospital’s workflow efficiency.
*Supplied free with this report is Mobile Operators - Fully Engaged, which provides an overview of the role of mobile carriers in healthcare applications*
Introduction – A Waiting Game
Taking The Credit
DNAs – Do They Matter?
SMS Patient Reminders And Paging – Technical Overview
Niche Markets For Patient Reminders
Can The Figures Be Trusted?
Market Size and Potential
Table – Estimated Annual Revenues (SMS Reminders) 2005 – 2010
Graph - Estimated Annual Revenues (SMS Reminders) 2005 – 2010
Table – Estimated Annual Sales (Patient Paging) 2005 – 2010
Graph - Estimated Annual Sales (Patient Paging) 2005 – 2010
Integration And Extension
Yorkhill Children’s Hospital
Wolverhampton Social Services
Today patients are less willing to wait for long periods in outpatient clinics. Overbooking, the traditional way of filling appointments left free by patients who ‘Did Not Attend’ (DNAs), can cause further delays and frustration.
DNAs cause disruption to the workflow within an outpatient department and, if the failure of a patient to complete their course of treatment leads to a relapse or complications, increases treatment costs and puts additional pressure on the provider’s limited capacity.
Patients expect the interface between themselves and the healthcare provider to be supported by the same technology that companies in other sectors of the economy use to keep their customers informed.
A large proportion of DNAs are in the demographic group that makes most use of mobile telephone services such as text messaging. While this means systems already installed are proving highly effective in reducing DNAs, large-scale deployments could suffer from diminishing returns. Vendors should therefore consider enhancing their existing SMS-based appointment reminder services by adding medication reminder services.
Although SMS PR and PP systems do not generate large revenue streams, they provide an entry point into the healthcare IT market for small communications companies and mobile operators. IT vendors who are already established in the healthcare sector can provide text messaging as an added value service packaged with their existing hosted applications.
While patient paging is currently based on proprietary network technology and devices, the relaxation of restrictions on the use of mobile phones in hospitals will allow vendors to merge SMS PR and PP systems and provide both services on the same SMS platform.
Combining medication reminders, appointment reminders and patient paging, then offering them to healthcare providers on a mobile platform, would increase the incentive to fully incorporate mobile services within patient administration systems. This would provide the mobile communications vendor with an opportunity to position themselves as key providers of healthcare IT infrastructure
- Advanced Messaging