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Frequently Asked Questions

About the service 

Cost

Contact us - updating and changing

I have received a message

About the Service

What departments will be using the Electronic Patient Contact system / patient groups will receive an electronic reminder?

The departments included in the use of Electronic Patient Contact system will be Outpatients, Therapies, Radiological Sciences and Endoscopy.  There is information at each department’s page on the website.

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Are you planning to extend the service to other areas of the Trust?  What plans are there for the future?

There are lots of plans for the future use of the Electronic Contact system.   Over the next few months we will introduce Text and Landline based reminders for four of the busiest departments in the Trust.  We hope to be able to extend this to be used in the whole hospital in the future.  We are also exploring the possible use of Agent (person to person reminder service) and email (for all letters and reminders). 

We aim to use the system to alert patients of short notice availability of clinic appointments, offering the appointment(s) on a first come first served basis, therefore offering a new appointment at short notice (if you are waiting for one) or by bringing your booked appointment forward.  The system can also be used for short notice cancellations of clinic appointment(s) when the worst happens, such inclement weather and equipment breakdowns.

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What is an Interactive Voice Message?

This is a message sent to your landline phone to remind you of your appointment.  The message will give you instructions to follow, asking you to ‘press 1’ to confirm your appointment, ‘press 2’ to cancel or ‘press 3’ to change your appointment.  If you choose option 3, you will be provided with a phone number to call to change your appointment.  All other options will be fed back to the Trust via a daily report and actioned as required.

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What is an Interactive Text Message?

This is a text message sent to your mobile phone that will ask you to text back (reply) confirm or cancel or change.  If you choose to change your appointment, you will be provided with a phone number to call to change your appointment.

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What does the text message look like?

The message will be slightly different, depending on the Department you are attending.  However, all messages will inform you of the hospital site, time, date and department you are planned to visit.  It will also include a phone number for you to call if you have any queries about your message or appointment.

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Who will receive messages? 

We aim to be able to send an electronic reminder to all our patients (dependent on your details being available, up to date and haven’t opted out of the service).  By offering a messaging service to both mobile phones and landlines, we will able to reach many more patients.

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I don’t have a mobile phone.  Will I still get an electronic reminder?

During 2012, the service will be extended to include the option to send a message to all phone numbers.  We would ask that if you have a mobile phone and or a landline at home, you kindly provide us with your up to date details for both your mobile phone and landline phone, so we can contact you at short notice.  To tell us of your up to date information please see ‘What phone number do I use if I want to speak to someone about the electronic reminder?’

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I don’t have a landline phone at home.  Will I still get an electronic reminder?

That’s ok.  So long as we have an up to date mobile phone number, we can still contact you, sending an electronic reminder when required.  If you do get a landline phone number, please let us know.  To tell us of your up to date information please see ‘What phone number do I use if I want to speak to someone about the electronic reminder?’

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Does East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust send the message to me or is from another company on your behalf?

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust has engaged with a third party company to provide the service. 

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How can I be sure that it is a confidential service?

The service operates via a secure NHS approved connection between us and the third party company (Healthcare Communications).  No patient details (name, address, hospital number, gender), extend beyond these points.  The third party company do not have access to view your information, as it is ‘stored’ on a secure server.  Even if we deliver the message to the wrong number, it is impossible for you to be identified from the message.

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How do I know this was a genuine call to my home from EKHUFT?

If you are worried about an automated call that states it is from East Kent Hospitals and you are not sure, terminate the call.  If you then dial 1471, you will be given the phone number 01227 250240 if the call was on behalf of EKHUFT.  If you dial 01227 250240 you will hear a recorded message stating that you were called on behalf of EKHUFT and will be called again within the next 24 hours.

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I am the parent/carer of a vulnerable child/adult – will I get a message?  Can someone else receive my reminders for me?

If you are a parent/guardian or carer and we have your contact details on the patient’s electronic file, we will send the message to you.  If the child/adult has their own contact details, we will send the message to them. 

If you would like to update the contact information for the person you care for, please see ‘What phone number do I use if I want to speak to someone about the electronic reminder?’ 

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Cost 

Do I have to pay for the message?  Is there any cost to me for the service?

The service is sent to you, by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust free of charge, to remind you of your imminent appointment.  If asked to confirm or cancel your appointment, there will be no charge to you for replying to the message However, if following receipt of the message, you choose to phone directly into the Trust, this will be charged at your normal tariff rate and appear on your next bill.

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Contact us - updating and changing

I need to update my contact details with you.  How do I do that?

Please contact the appropriate department via the phone numbers listed.  Alternatively, please let us know the next time you visit the hospital or by filling in one of the forms and sending it in to us.

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I don’t want to receive an electronic reminder.  What do I do?

If you do not wish to receive an electronic reminder about your appointment, please see ‘What phone number do I use if I want to speak to someone about the electronic reminder?’  The team in the appropriate area will action your request that you don’t wish to receive the electronic reminder on our patient administration system. 

We are able to stop messages to either your mobile phone or landline or both, i.e. if you would like to receive messages to your mobile phone but not your landline, let us know and we can opt you out of the system for the that number.

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What phone number do I use if I want to speak to someone about the electronic reminder?

We would ask that you use the following phone numbers, to ask about the new service, up date your contact details or to change/cancel an appointment.

Outpatients Services – 01227 868686

Radiology –   X-Ray WHH - 01233 616032 

                        X-Ray K&C – 01227 864249 (or ext 722-2879)

                        X-Ray QEQM – 01843 23 5031

Endoscopy -  01843 234395

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I have received a message

I have received your electronic reminder and want to keep my appointment.  Do I need to do anything?

If you are asked to reply to the message to ‘confirm or cancel’ your appointment, we would ask that you did so.  This will enable us to ensure that all clinic appointments, in all areas are informed of their appointment availability.  If there isn’t an option to confirm your appointment, don’t worry, as we will assume that you will be attending. If you have been asked to confirm your appointment, but forget, please don’t worry, as we will follow up these messages and not cancel any patient without due reason.

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I have received your electronic reminder and want to change my appointment to another date.  Do I need to do anything?

Yes.  We would ask that you phone the appropriate department’s phone number and discuss this with one of our members of staff. For more information, please see ‘What phone number do I use if I want to speak to someone about the electronic reminder?’ Please note that you will be charged at your normal tariff rate, to make this call.

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I have received your electronic reminder and want to cancel my appointment.  Do I need to do anything?

Yes.  We would ask that you phone the appropriate department’s phone number and discuss this with one of our members of staff.  For more information, please see ‘What phone number do I use if I want to speak to someone about the electronic reminder?’ Please note that you will be charged at your normal tariff rate, to make this call.

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I have received a message from you saying you have available appointments.  What do I do now?

If you would like to speak to a member of hospital staff about taking that appointment slot, please contact the phone number provided in your message.  This will enable you to speak to the correct person and potentially be offered one of these appointments.

Please note that the same message will be sent to a number of people and therefore the appointment will be offered on a first come first served basis.

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I forgot to confirm my appointment.  Does this mean my appointment will be cancelled?

No.  If you forget to confirm your attendance via the message, please don’t worry, as we will follow up these messages and not cancel any patient without due reason.

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Will I still receive my reminder letter for my Outpatients clinic appointment?

No.  We aim to stop sending paper appointment reminders by the end of Dec 2012.

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Does it matter if I cancel or change my appointment?

We would ask you to endeavour to attend your allocated appointment, but realise that this is not always possible.  However, if you cannot avoid changing or cancelling your appointment, please remember that after a second cancellation or failure to attend your appointment without due notice (DNA – did not attend), we may discharge you back to your referring clinician (GP, other Consultant, Dentist).

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I have more than one appointment over the next few days / weeks.  Will I receive more than one electronic reminder?

Yes.  We will send one electronic reminder per appointment you have (so long as the department is participating in the service)

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