Monday, January 30, 2012

How do you persuade people to keep appointments?

People who fail to show up for appointments cost organizations big bucks. A study in the UK showed that missed GP and hospital appointments costs the National Health Service more than 700 million pounds annually. Research carried out in liaison with the NHS Bedfordshire found that three behavior-change interventions can lead to a dramatic reduction in the numbers of people who fail to turn up for appointments:
  1. Getting patients to confirm their appointment by verbally repeating the details to the receptionist. 
  2. Getting patients to write the appointment down themselves (rather than the receptionist doing it for them).
  3. Placing positive messages around the GP practices confirming that attending appointments is the "social norm".
In the case of the Bedfordshire research, the techniques lead to a reduction of 30% in the number of no-shows for NHS appointments. Organizers estimated that if the interventions were replicated nationally, they could deliver savings of up to 250 million pounds annually.

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