The study was carried out jointly by NHS Bedfordshire, Influence at Work, a training and consultancy provider, and BDO, an accountancy and professional services firm.
The study found that using techniques such as getting patients to write their appointment down themselves and getting them to repeat the appointment verbally to receptionists helped to reduce DNAs.
Placing positive messages around GP practices confirming that attending appointments is the ‘social norm’ also helped to reduce missed appointment, the study said.
In NHS Bedfordshire, the behaviour change techniques resulted in a reduction of 30% in the number of no-shows, the study said.
Researchers said that replicating this approach country-wide could deliver savings of up to £250m a year.
Nadia Shaw, practice manager from Toddington Medical Centre in Bedfordshire, took part in the research.
She said: ‘Given how simple the interventions were we weren’t too sure how successful they would be but they proved to be an amazing turnaround for us.’
GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said that any method which could reduced missed appointments was positive as DNAs often resulted in extended waiting times for patients.
However GPs should be careful to ensure that safeguards are maintained, Dr Nagpaul said.
‘Any measure that will reduce the rate of DNAs will be of benefit both to practices and patients.’ Dr Nagpaul said
‘However it is important to ensure robust information governance safeguards are in place.’