Hospital reduces appointment no-shows with SMS reminder service

Appointment no-shows are down at Dorset County Hospital because of a new text-based reminder service, reports.

Every year sees around 19,000 missed appointments at the Dorchester hospital, which costs the local NHS Trust in the region of £3 million.

In a bid to combat the wastage, hospital chiefs decided to roll out a text message reminder service, which saw patients given gentle reminders ahead of their appointment so they could be prompted to attend or call to re-schedule if they have since become unable to make the arranged slot.

The trial has since been deemed a resounding success, after missed appointments dropped and patients responded positively to the reminders. As such, plans are afoot to push the text reminder service out to many more wards within the hospital which had not signed up for the initial test. This may require a little creativity for appointments of a more sensitive nature, but the hospital is considering ways of working around this.

Commenting on the scheme, patient access lead AnitaThomas told “Patient feedback has been very positive and we have certainly seen a reduction in the number of missed appointments since rolling out the service.

“Many patients call us after receiving the text to say they had forgotten about it and would like to change it, which means that we can offer their appointment to another patient. All new appointment letters contain information on opting out of the system if people would rather not receive texts and there are posters in all outpatient areas and local GP surgeries explaining the service.”