The human touch: Volunteers help reduce missed appointments by 40 per cent for the Hants Health and Wellness Team

Letitia Deemer, a current volunteer with NSHA.
Since the article was written, Lynn Sisco has moved away from the community. In this photo is Letitia Deemer, a current volunteer with NSHA.

Lynn Sisco, volunteer, is proud to have played a role in reducing no-shows for services offered by the Hants Health and Wellness Team in Windsor. 

A ‘no-show’ is when a client does not attend a scheduled clinical appointment and doesn’t contact the clinic to cancel or reschedule before the appointment date. 

No-shows contribute to longer wait-times, gaps in care, increased health system costs, inefficient use of human resources and impact workplace satisfaction.

In 2017, the percentage of no-shows was 15 per cent. Leadership and staff knew if they were able to reduce the rate of no-shows, they could fill vacant spots and increase the reach and impact of the service. 

They reached out to Volunteer Services for help.

“There’s something to be said about a personal touch,” said Lindsay Sutherland, health services manager, Primary Care, of the idea to have volunteers call clients and remind them of their upcoming appointments rather than relying on automated phone reminders.

When Volunteer Services let Sisco know about the opportunity, she was quick to accept. 

She and three other volunteers took on the task of calling clients a week before their scheduled appointment as a reminder. 

Sisco said her calls were well received by clients. 

“They were really receptive – and appreciative. They were glad to hear a human. Sometimes they had a simple question that we were able to answer. In this day and age with recordings, the personal touch is gone. It’s really nice to have it back so that people can relate to other people.”

The rate of missed appointments has gone down to nine per cent-- a 40 per cent decrease. 

At the same time, visit volumes have increased. “The change is sticking,” said Sutherland. 

She said the success of the initiative is a reminder that, “Sometimes small solutions can lead to big change.”

Sutherland gives kudos to the volunteers for the project’s success. 

“Our volunteers are such an amazing resource,” she said. “They are creating a more positive patient experience.”

For Sisco, volunteering in this role has been satisfying. “It was really a good feeling to know that what we were doing was making a difference.”

If you are interested in volunteering with NSHA visit http://www.nshealth.ca/volunteer