Text Message Service Helps Reduce Missed Appointments

A HEALTH trust has been successfully piloting a text messaging service to remind patients of upcoming appointments.

Since July 2011, Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which provides specialist health and social care services for people with a learning disabilities, mental health issues, and drug or alcohol problems, has been piloting the SMS text messaging reminder service for outpatient appointments.

Each year, hundreds of service users miss their appointments simply because they forget when it is and each missed appointment costs the Trust £160, on average.

Text reminders have been tested by other NHS organisations around the country and have been proven to substantially reduce the number of missed appointments.

Trust business manager for general adult mental health services, Martin Vokes, said: “Sending out text reminders has proven to be a great way of reducing the number of missed appointments for other NHS organisations.

“Reducing the number of missed appointments can reduce service user waiting times as cancelled appointments can be reallocated to others. By reducing the number of missed appointments, waiting times for appointments can be reduced too, as cancelled appointments can be reallocated to others.”

The service is currently being tested with two areas of service and will be evaluated in March before a trust-wide roll out is agreed.

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