About a month after AIIMS started a computerised appointment system for out-patient department consultations in an effort to control long queues outside the OPD, the institute authorities have brought out a fresh notice making it compulsory for all patients to book appointments in advance for follow-up visits.
According to the notice, put up in English and Hindi on the AIIMS website, “Without appointment patients will not be seen. For next OPD visit in main hospital, patient may please ensure to take appointment from department OPD registration counter.”
In an effort to streamline services and control the rush of patients, the institute had started an appointment system at the Rajkumari Amrit Kaur OPD in February. Patients could make appointments —up to a week in advance – at the dedicated registration counters at the OPD.
In the trial run, estimates showed that 50 per cent of patients had made advance appointments. Authorities then decided to reserve at least 25 per cent of the time slots for on-the-spot appointments.
“We are still reserving those slots, but only for patients who are coming to the hospital for the first time. For follow-up visits, patients are being clearly told that they have to take appointments. This is to help us encourage patients to use the appointment system, organise the patient flow, and reduce long queues and waiting periods,” Dr Deepak Agrawal, in-charge of the computerised appointment system at AIIMS, said.
But with no advertisements of publicise the new system and only a bilingual notice on the website, many patients, who have been coming to AIIMS from other states for years now, are being told to make appointments and return.
The plight is best explained the parents of Janissa (8). They brought her from Alwar to AIIMS for a follow-up in the gastroenterology department on Friday, but were redirected to the appointment registration desk.
Janissa’s father Wahjahat Khan said the family was not informed that they could speak to their consultant for an appointment the same day.
“This is the first time that we have heard of an appointment system at AIIMS. We have return tickets booked for next week, so hopefully, we will get an appointment,” he said.
In an effort to solve this problem, authorities said during the initial stages, such patients who are not aware of the new system, can speak to their consultants and get a written request on their OPD registration slips for a same-day appointment.
“For patients who are undergoing treatment for years, and are turning up for scheduled follow-ups, a written request from the doctor on the OPD slip will suffice,” an official said.