The introduction of a mobile text messaging service has resulted in improved appointment attendance at Barts and the London Hospital NHS Trust.

The trust introduced Orange’s Health Gateway in August 2010 to tackle missed appointments.

The service allows the trust to send personalised appointment reminders to patients via SMS.

But where it differs from other appointment reminder services is that the patient can then reply with requests to either cancel or reschedule appointments.

The trust has been sending out about 2,000 texts a day, and receives, on average, 100 replies with requests to change appointments.

As a result, the number of missed appointments in some services has reduced by more than 20%.

The trust’s deputy general manager for outpatients, Gregory Bird, said the service, which is run on iPlato technology, had turned simple text messaging into a ‘productivity tool’.

“This two way communication helps save time and hospital resources, and the cancelled appointments can be reallocated to another patient.

“The service allows us to optimise attendance rates and better manage capacity and demand. Detailed system reports also help us to improve data quality.”

Orange told eHealth Insider it has more than 70 trusts or local health boards across the UK signed up for the service.

The company’s head of public sector and health, Kate Jack, said the system was a simple but effective tool which was allowing hospitals to make substantial time and efficiency savings.

“Mobile technology is revolutionising how hospitals operate and, with patient numbers increasing and staff under increasing pressure to meet efficiency targets, it has never been more important.”