Text reminders cut patient no shows at East End hospitals

Thousands of pounds a day are being saved with a text messaging reminder service jogging patients’ memories about hospital appointments at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.

Barts and The London NHS Trust set up a text messaging reminder service three months ago which has cut the number of patients failing to turn up to outpatient appointments by up to a third.

Medics see half a million outpatients at the Trust’s three hospitals every year.

Patients are now sent two text message reminders about their forthcoming appointment - the first a fortnight before and the second three days before.

If the appointment is no longer needed or convenient and the patient would like to cancel or reschedule, they can text back saying so and a member of the Central Appointments team will contact them.

Greg Bird, deputy general manager of Outpatient Services, said: “By encouraging patients to let us know if appointments are not convenient, we can rearrange them and also use the now vacant appointment slot for another patient who is waiting to be seen.

“Our patients tell us that they really appreciate the service, saying it helps them to remember they’ve got appointments coming up and stops them from missing them.

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“There is no doubt that this new system is saving us thousands of pounds a day.”

Up to 2000 text reminders are now being sent each day and about ten per cent of patients wishing to cancel or reschedule their appointments at the Royal London, London Chest in Bethnal Green and Barts hospital in Smithfield.

It has meant a drop of up to 35 per cent of no shows - patients who fail to turn up for their appointments in some clinics, compared to the same time last year.