Targeting zero non-attendance in healthcare clinics Academic Article uri icon


  • Non-attendance represents a significant cost to many health systems, resulting in inefficiency, wasted resources, poorer service delivery and lengthened waiting queues. Past studies have considered extensively the reasons for non-attendance and have generally concluded that the use of reminder systems is effective. Despite this, there will always be a certain level of non-attendance arising from unforeseeable and unpreventable circumstances, such as illness or accidents, leading to unfilled appointments. This paper reviews current approaches to the non-attendance problem, and presents a high-level approach to fill last minute appointments arising out of unforeseeable non-attendance. However, no single approach will work for all clinics and implementation of these ideas must occur at a local level. These approaches include use of social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, as a communication tool in order to notify prospective patients when last-minute appointments become available. In addition, teleconsultation using video-conferencing technologies would be suitable for certain last-minute appointments where travel time would otherwise be inhibiting. Developments of new and innovative technologies and the increasing power of social media, means that zero non-attendance is now an achievable target. We hope that this will lead to more evidence-based evaluations from the implementation of these strategies in various settings at a local level.

publication date

  • January 1, 2012