A study shows that patients are informed that missing their hospital appointment will cost the NHS £160 are far more likely to turn up…reports Asian Lite news
A study of 20,000 NHS patients found that text messages spelling out exactly how much money would be wasted by failure to attend were the best way to reduce missed appointments, reports The Telegraph.
The Health Secretary has recently said such schemes will be introduced across England.
More than 5 million hospital outpatient appointments are missed every year – one in 10 of all slots.Most hospitals now send reminder text messages, in a bid to ensure patients do not forget.
The NHS study tested a range of ways to encourage patients to keep or reschedule their appointments.
It found that attempts to remind patients to behave decently – such as a plea to be “fair to others” by cancelling or rearranging – made little difference.
Nor did a general warning that failures attend cos the NHS money, or simply providing people with contact details on the message so they could cancel at the touch of a button.
But telling patients that their failure to attend would cost the NHS approximately £160 reduced the level of missed appointments by almost one quarter.
The figure reflects the budget for an average outpatients appointment at Barts Health NHS trust, which ran the study, with staff and buildings costs unchanged regardless of whether patients turn up, adds the Telegraph report.
Health officials say the NHS loses around £750m a year in outpatient appointments and £162m in GP appointments.
Experts said that if the new approach was used nationally, it could prevent 400,000 missed appointments a year.
The six-month study was run at Barts Health NHS Trust by the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, the Department of Health and the Behavioural Insights Team, known as the “Nudge Unit” which is part owned by Government.
The findings will be published in the journal PLoS.