As part of its efforts to improve processes and reduce waiting time in its hospitals, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has launched a new fixed-time appointment system and booking centre.
“The new facility, a first for HMC, will serve as a single point of contact between patients and the Women’s Hospital Outpatient Department (OPD),” HMC managing director Dr Hanan al-Kuwari said.
The project has been initiated in collaboration with HMC’s Centre for Healthcare Improvement (CHI) and Women’s Hospital.
The booking centre will also be responsible for making two reminder phone calls, three days before and again one day ahead of a scheduled appointment, and issuing short message service (SMS) reminders to patients.
“The OPD booking centre will be a dedicated facility for patients wishing to book, rearrange or cancel appointments by telephone,” Women’s Hospital executive director Nish Patel said.
“It will also centralise the booking of appointments for all Outpatient clinics at Women’s Hospital, and serve as the initial point of contact for all patients being referred from Primary Healthcare Centres and private healthcare facilities,” he explained.
The launch event also featured a presentation ceremony to award staff members who underwent extensive customer service training from an external company in preparation for the opening of the booking centre.
“The concept of patient reminders is expected to reduce the no-show rate to the accepted international benchmark of 15%. We will soon be conducting educational sessions about the new system, and a massive campaign to inform patients of its benefits,” Patel added.
Under the new system, there is no more need for patients to visit the OPD to book an appointment. They only have to call the booking centre, and the centre’s staff will set their appointment.
The system will no longer accept walk-in patients. Patients will be informed of the changes by telephone from today, including 500 individuals whose existing appointments have been moved to the new system.
The process improvement initiative will also involve a revision of the OPD schedule to maximise clinical capacity, and a complete redesign of the facility to support an improved flow of patients through a streamlined set of processes.
The remodelling of the OPD areas, to begin shortly, is expected to take four to five months for completion.
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