Text messages could cut hospital missed appointment rates

A Westcountry NHS Trust has put its faith in text messages as it bids to drive down missed appointment numbers, piratefm.co.uk reports.

The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust claimed that it sees around 40,000 missed outpatient and inpatient appointments every year – which bring with it a cost of around £4 million.

As such, it has looked at new ways of reminding people to come in for their appointments, or at least cancel them in enough time so that others can take the vacancy.

Now, the Trust has rolled out a new SMS scheme which will see those booked in for appointments sent a text message ahead of time to act as a gentle reminder. It is hoped this will drastically reduce the 100 or so missed appointments the trust was otherwise forecast to see every day in November.

The scheme will see anyone booking an appointment presented with the option of having a free text reminder sent to their phone. This message will then contain the time and date of the appointment, as well as a number to phone in the event of a cancellation.

Commenting on the new service, medical director at the Trust, Duncan Browne, told thisiscornwall.co.uk: “There are sometimes good reasons for patients missing appointments but often the public do not realise the consequences for the NHS and other patients.

“Every missed appointment has an implication for the trust and prevents someone else from attending. We are calling on all our patients to sign up to the free text reminder service to help them make arrangements for their appointment and get their treatment at the right time. We need to use NHS resources wisely.”