Automated bookings spark rise in no-shows
The Hospital Authority is looking for ways to cut down the no-show rate at public clinics, which has risen from 2 per cent to about 10 per cent since an automatic phone booking system was introduced in October 2006.
Director of strategy and planning Lo Su-vui said the authority surveyed clinics a few months ago and found that one in 10 patients who booked an appointment by phone did not turn up.
In the past, patients had to make walk-in appointments. But there were complaints about long waiting times and hardship for the elderly.
'We are concerned about the high default rate. It is a by-product of the telephone appointment system, as it is now easier for people to make an appointment,' Mr Lo said.
The authority bans repeat defaulters from using phone bookings but is looking for tougher deterrents.
'Those who do not turn up will have to give satisfactory explanations if they want to use telephone bookings again,' he said.
The authority also plans to launch a campaign to teach patients how to cancel bookings by phone.
Some doctors said the telephone booking system had attracted younger and better-off patients to use public hospital services.