Text reminder system saves over 14,000 missed appointments

MAIN Text reminder system saves over 14,000 missed appointments
Graph showing reduction in Did Not Attends (DNAs) in areas included in text reminder service

A text reminder system to help patients remember their appointment details has saved NHS Tayside over 14,000 missed appointments in its first year.

Every week, over 1000 people miss their hospital appointment in NHS Tayside.  Each missed appointment delays treatment and increases waiting times for all patients.

The new automated service, which was introduced in July 2018, sends text reminders to patients giving details of the day, date, time and location of their appointment and encouraging them to contact the department if they can no longer attend.

Since its introduction, over 180,000 text reminders have been sent and the number of Did Not Attends (DNAs) have reduced by 14,653 over the course of a year. This means that more of our patients are being seen sooner and clinical time is being used more effectively.

Associate Medical Director for Medicine Dr Robin Smith said, “People not turning up for their appointments, often because they have just forgotten, is a real issue for us and the text reminders are one of the ways in which we are tackling the numbers of DNAs recorded in Tayside.  We are very pleased with the impact that text reminders have had in reducing missed appointments and have extended the service to more areas across Tayside.

“We would urge people to get in contact with us as early as possible if they are unable to attend their appointment for any reason which allows us to rearrange a more suitable date and time for them and give the original appointment to someone else. This reduces the number of wasted appointments and means we can make the best use of all of our precious NHS resources.

“It would also be really helpful for us if people can make sure they keep their GP up-to-date with their correct phone number and address details.”

The service was initially introduced in the majority of adult outpatient areas across Tayside with information provided on appointment letters explaining how patients can opt out of the reminder service.

In October this year, the text reminder service was extended to include parents of children under 16 who attend paediatric and dental clinics, and parents of children under 12 who attend child and adolescent mental health clinics.

Following the success of the service for outpatients, text reminders have also recently been introduced for the majority of planned procedures.

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