8 Dec 2008

Text message service for Waitemata DHB patients

7:39 am on 8 December 2008

Waitemata District Health Board is trying out new text message technology in a bid to reduce the thousands of dollars wasted when drug addicts miss appointments.

It says up to a third of its methadone patients do not turn up to doctors and counselling appointments.

The board is introducing a service where patients can text the clinic if they cannot attend.

Many of the board's 1,100 methadone patients cannot afford to ring the hospital, and texting is a much cheaper option. Hospital staff immediately call the patient back.

Robert Steenhuisen, who runs the Community Alcohol and Drugs service, says texting will enable staff to keep on top of the patient's treatment and reduce the wastage of time and resources.

The technology may also be rolled out across other district health board services.

Some other boards, including Counties Manukau and Nelson Marlborough, send out reminder texts to its patients.