New ideas for reducing the number of missed appointments

15 March, 2019

Patients who miss booked appointments deprive the healthcare system of valuable resources and healthcare waiting lists get longer. Now, the business community is getting involved to break the negative trend.

TEXT: ANNIKA ÅKERVALL

“Nobody wins when the patient is absent. It leads to poorer health for individuals, as well as unnecessary queues. It also creates frustration and stress among employees,” says Monica Käll-Guldbrand, speech therapist and unit manager for speech therapy at Skaraborg Hospital.

“It is not ‘nice to have a bit of breathing space’ between appointments. That is a myth we really want to bust.”

Monica’s colleague, Jonas Isacson, confirms the trend of more patients missing booked appointments. Mostly, individuals between the ages of 20-29 years; and sometimes repeatedly.

Monica and Jonas were two of many engaged participants in the first workshop of the newly started project Inn2Health, which Sahlgrenska Science Park runs together with five other west Swedish science parks, Region Västra Götaland and MedTech West.

The project is a major cross-industry collaboration for technology and innovation. The work is based on healthcare needs and involves the business community on many levels.

Breaking the negative trend
The cost of missed appointments in Västra Götaland has increased by approximately SEK 100 million compared to 2016. One third of these concern doctor appointments, according to an article in Göteborgs-Posten entitled “Glömska patienter kostade över en halv miljard 2018” (Forgetful patients cost over half a billion in 2018). A negative trend that must be broken, according to health care director Ann Söderström.

At the speech therapy unit at Skaraborg Hospital, they have successfully halved the cost of missed appointments. For this work, they received the Skaraborg Hospital development prize in 2017. However, this way of working has not been implemented more broadly. This is what Monica Käll-Guldbrand and Jonas Isacson want to change, as well as reducing the number of missed appointments even further. All missed appointments come at a cost. It’s tax payers’ money that could be put to better use. Moreover, healthcare waiting lists get longer at the same time as capacity is wasted. It’s a catch 22 situation.

Many tangible ideas
During the Inn2Health workshop – Cross Collaboration Day – with the focus on finding new solutions to this extensive problem, many developable ideas emerged. A more modern customer perspective with more digital solutions and clarifying the consequences of a missed appointment were just some of the ideas discussed.

“During our group work, we spoke about how we can increase people’s motivation to show up at their booked time,” says Monica Käll-Guldbrand. “A project in preschools that aimed to prevent parents from picking up their children late, showed that the introduction of a system where parents had to pay a fee for each late pick-up actually had the opposite effect and resulted in more late pick-ups. Informing parents about the importance of arriving on time instead had a positive effect.

The Inn2Health project is about taking real problems or needs in healthcare and creating ideas and solutions to solve them. These are then tested in collaboration between industry, healthcare and academia. Representatives from all these areas participated in this workshop. There was a magnitude of good ideas. Länka Consulting, who led the meeting, was kept busy moderating the dialogue.

How quickly the ideas from Inn2Health Cross Collaboration Day could be introduced is still unclear. To be continued…

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Good prerequisites
Innovation in life science must, more than ever, be based on the needs and conditions of care. One of the major advantages is that West Sweden has industries and experiences that complement each other particularly well in the development of digital services and products. The experience of the automotive industry’s shift towards self-driving vehicles comes to great use in the transition of the life science industry. As do many of the developments in the AI area which are also taking place in the region.

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Facts: The Inn2Health collaboration project includes Johanneberg Science Park, Lindholmen Science Park, Sahlgrenska Science Park, Science Park Borås (where Smart Textiles are included), Science Park Skövde, Wargön Innovation / Innovatum, MedTech West and Region Västra Götaland through the Innovation platform. The project will be ongoing during 2019-2021.