Text messages the best way to reduce missed appointments

Texts that detail the cost of a missed appointment are the best way to ensure people don’t fail to attend, a new study from the NHS has revealed.

Missed appointments fell by nearly a quarter when patients were sent text messages informing them that each no-show costs the NHS around £160. In fact, the NHS loses an estimated £750 million a year as a result of missed outpatients appointments, and £162 million in GP appointments, reports telegraph.co.uk. Brits fail to turn up to almost 19 million appointments a year.

The study involved some 20,000 patients and took place at Barts Health NHS Trust over a six-month period. Lord Darzi, director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, which conducted the study, said that text messages would save money and fill more appointment slots.

“The NHS is busier than ever and hospitals need to make every single penny count for patients,” he stated. “But we all have a role to play in keeping the NHS sustainable for the future, and it’s clear that people feel a sense of responsibility.”

If text messages were used to notify patients of their appointments, and how much they cost, nationally, the NHS could prevent 400,000 missed appointments a year, the researchers concluded.