NHS hospital trusts have been using innovative, yet simple, ideas to reduce the number of missed appointments, contributing to an overall drop in missed outpatient appointments of over 250,000 last year.
Some local NHS organisations have been using text messages, Skype and other methods to stay in contact and treat patients, replacing what could have been a missed appointment with an opportunity.
Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust uses text messages to remind patients of their appointment. By using these text message reminders, as well as other methods such as online cancellation forms, it is easier for patients who do need to cancel to get in touch with the Trust. Overall, because of projects to reduce missed appointments, the number of missed appointments in Derby between April and December 2011 fell by over 12,000 or two percent of all appointments, compared to the same period, the year before.
Newham University Hospital NHS Trust has started a pilot, where outpatient appointments happen via Skype for diabetes patients who don’t need a physical examination. This caused missed appointments to fall by 11 percent because of the time saved in travelling and waiting and fewer patients attending A&E. Feedback from patients has found that the quality of care was the same as face to face appointments.
Other examples of best practice in the use of Information and IT within the health and care system were set out in the Information Strategy published in May.
There were around 5.5 million missed appointments in the NHS last year. Read the press release for details of the impact of missed appointments on the NHS.