A recent BBC report highlighted the growing problem of patients failing to attend appointments with their doctor. Missed GP appointments has been calculated to cost the NHS £216m and 1.2 million GP hours per year. This not only wastes resource, but also impacts on patient health through delayed treatment. Ensuring that appointment communications get to patients quickly and reliably, alongside prompting with other digital communications, can save on staff time, reduce Non-Attendances, and help stretched budgets go further. This is where hybrid mail can play a vital role across the whole sector.
Hybrid Mail is correspondence that can be delivered using a clever combination of electronic and physical delivery - documents are sent electronically from a user’s computer to a central location, and then printed and mailed in large batches. Large savings are generated through a huge reduction in manual handling, as well as economies of scale for printing and discounts on postage. Put simply, using a hybrid mail solution reduces the amount of money a hospital, dentist, physio or private clinic spends on postage, printing and business stationery. And for an organisation the size of the NHS – one of the biggest employers in the world with around 600,000 staff - there is a huge potential for savings.
Over the course of a year, the dozens of NHS Trusts and thousands of dental practices in the UK will send out millions of outpatient appointment letters and reminders to their patients. This is incredibly time consuming, requiring a team of staff to be diverted permanently away from activities that can have a greater impact on both the operation of their organisation and the health of patients, whether at public or private hospitals. By using a hybrid mail solution, a healthcare organisation’s staff can focus more of their time working directly with doctors and patients instead of printing documents, stuffing envelopes and operating franking machines.
Hybrid mail also provides another key benefit both to patients and healthcare companies: better data management. Whether it’s by reducing the delivery failure rate compared to traditional mail, delivery tracking, or better brand consistency from centralised control of communications, these benefits all add up to improved patient outcomes. Staff who normally devote time to the physical processes of sending patient communications can now also focus more on keeping address data cleansed and up-to-date, significantly reducing the chance of an appointment letter not reaching its intended recipient.
This improvement in delivery success can also be combined with SMS messages or emails to ensure fewer patients miss their appointments. Research has shown that 90% of text messages are opened within three minutes of receipt, meaning a healthcare organisation can put a message in the palm of their patients’ hands, almost guaranteeing it will be seen quickly, and provide a timely reminder that the recipient has an appointment to visit their doctor.
By making smart use of the technologies at their disposal, both public and private healthcare organisations in the UK can now radically improve the way they communicate with their patients and customers, improving health outcomes while saving vital resource from stretched budgets.