Missed hospital appointments cost the NHS millions of pounds every year, which is why it is piloting artificial intelligence (AI) software to reduce the number of incidents.
AI will use algorithms, data, and external insights, such as weather, traffic, and jobs, to determine the likelihood of a missed appointment, so that a booking is arranged for a more convenient time. This will lower the probability of the patient missing their slot.
It also provides back-up bookings, so no appointment is wasted, increasing efficiency of the health service.
Chief executive of the NHS Amanda Pritchard said: “[The new pilot] shows the NHS testing the latest technological advancements to address the real world challenges we face.”
She added: “The system will help ensure patients receive ‘smart’ appointments, that are convenient and fit into people’s increasingly busy lives.”
The scheme is being trialled in Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, where there is an average did not attend (DNA) rate of eight per cent. Data will be collected and analysed to determine whether the DNA will improve with the AI.
It is hoped an extra 80-100,000 patients will be able to be seen at the Trust every year, as a result of the technology.
Every year, eight million appointments are missed, costing the NHS around £1.2 billion.
The new software could help the health service reduce its huge backlog of patients waiting for appointments. It was recently revealed that 39,903 people are currently waiting more than 18 months for a referral.
If this pilot is successful, AI technology could become more commonplace in the NHS, from being used as a diagnostic tool to remote radiology reporting.