Missed hospital appointments are a major cause of inefficiency worldwide. Healthcare providers are increasingly using Short Message Service reminders to reduce 'Did Not Attend' (DNA) rates. Systematic reviews show that sending such reminders is effective, but there is no evidence on whether their impact is affected by their content. Accordingly, the authors undertook two randomized controlled trials that tested the impact of rephrasing appointment reminders on DNA rates in the United Kingdom. As a result, moving from the existing reminder to the more effective costs message would result in 5,800 fewer missed appointments per year in the National Health Service Trust in question, at no additional cost. The study’s main limitations are that it took place in a single location in England, and that it required accurate phone records, which were only obtained for 20% of eligible patients. The authors conclude that missed appointments can be reduced, for no additional cost, by introducing persuasive messages to appointment reminders. Future studies could examine the impact of varying reminder messages in other health systems.
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