A text messaging pilot by the Bradford Student Medical Centre has reduced did-not-attend rates for practice appointments by 25%, according to TPP.

The healthcare IT system supplier said the medical centre has been saving a day’s worth of clinical time every month since increasing its use of TPP’s SMS text messaging service, which it did when the service became free last year.

Figures for DNAs at the medical centre in March 2011 show a 25% drop. There were 120 missed appointments in comparison to more than 160 missed appointments in March 2010.

Dot Andrews, a data clerk for the practice, sends a text message to patients on the day of their appointment giving them a number to call and cancel if they are unable to attend.

Andrews said: “There has been a significant reduction in DNAs every month when compared to the figures from last year. Because all of our patients are students we always get an unusually high figure so anything that helps to cut that down is fantastic.”

TPP said nearly 700 organisations that use its SystmOne software are using the free text messaging service provided through the clinical system. Around 1.8 m messages have been sent to patients since the service became free last year.

Philippa Cole, clinical systems analyst from TPP, said some organisations were sending thousands of text messages a month.

She added: “This reduces paper waste, cuts costs, saves clinical time and most importantly means patients are receiving information much more quickly and in a more direct way.”