Healthcare organisations can now deploy two-way appointment reminders to reduce Did Not Attend (DNAs) rates via Webex Connect.

With more people to care for than ever before, every healthcare appointment is precious. Each one not attended costs time, money and could be better used for others. Showcasing the magnitude of the problem, of the 103 million outpatient appointments booked in 2021/22, 7.6% ended in a ‘Did Not Attend’; this equates to an average of 650,000 monthly appointment slots.

Why are appointments missed? NHS England reports that ‘Patients have told us that when they miss an appointment, it often stems from difficulties with processes and communication’, with 52% of patients admitting simply forgetting to attend or cancel.

Some healthcare organisations offer simple one-way appointment notifications via email to keep patients up to date, but they are often then prompted to call the contact centre to make any changes. This inflexible experience, on a channel where the message can be buried in the inbox and rescheduling is not a simple process, results in patients not attending their appointments.

Webex Connect’s new integration with Epic Systems is enabling healthcare organisations to digitally transform their appointment management communications. Through the cloud communications platform, they can automate appointment reminders and patient-led booking interactions over digital messaging channels to reduce DNA rates and improve the patient experience.

Proactive appointment reminders via Webex Connect

Healthcare organisations rely on an estate of backend and partner systems to manage patient communications and services. One of which is Epic, a cloud-based Electronic Healthcare Records (EHR) solution used by hospitals and large practices to help run day-to-day operations – storing patient records, medical history, referrals, etc.

The integration with Epic allows NHS hospitals to tap into the data held within the system to automate two-way appointment reminders over SMS, WhatsApp, live chat, and other digital channels.

For example, a patient appointment is only one week away. Leveraging the integration with Epic, an API call triggers an appointment reminder flow within Webex Connect. The required details are pulled from Epic, such as patient name and appointment time, and then a process is taken where channel preferences and social hours are taken into consideration before the message is sent.

When the patient receives the proactive reminder, they can respond and self-serve to confirm attendance, rearrange a new time, or cancel their appointment via a conversational interaction. They don’t need to log into a portal, they simply reply to the message in-channel. All this happens in real-time with changes to appointments being fed back into Epic to keep data updated.


Benefits for patients and healthcare organisations

By shifting to messaging for automating appointment reminders and patient-led booking, healthcare providers can put appointment management into patient hands via a channel they use every day. This will help to reduce missed appointments and the number of calls into the contact centre, significantly reducing operational costs and helping to maximise patient care.

We have seen great results for healthcare customers who have deployed similar solutions – Bolton NHS Foundation Trust reduced DNA rates by 22% in 3 months, and Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust achieved a 27% decrease in missed appointments in just one month.

Transforming the patient journey at every touchpoint

Webex Connect is a programmable CPaaS solution, allowing customers to select which capabilities and channels to leverage, helping to design solutions that have an immediate impact. A healthcare organisation could start with real-time SMS appointment reminders and then look to deliver the same use case over WhatsApp – immediately reducing DNA rates. From there, they can further leverage the capabilities of CPaaS, such as AI, to deploy a range of use cases across the patient journey to deliver valuable outcomes:

  • Referrals and registration
  • Pre-attendance digital forms and instructions
  • Digital front door and FAQ bot
  • Digital check-in
  • Video consultation
  • Test results and outcomes
  • Remote monitoring and PIFU
  • Digital discharge
  • Patient experience surveys
  • Repeat prescriptions


Deployed and available on the Epic App Market 

Integration of Webex Connect with Epic is already live in NHS Trusts including the Royal Marsden FT and is now available on the Epic App Market, where you can find out more info about procurement too.

If you would like to talk to one of our experts about how your organisation can leverage Webex Connect integration to transform patient experience, get in touch via our contact page.