The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has announced plans to deploy an artificial intelligence (AI) system across ten NHS Trusts to address missed appointments.

The initiative follows a successful pilot and aims to decrease waiting times for elective care while improving the use of resources.

Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust’s pilot of the AI software was found to cause a significant reduction in non-attendances.

Developed by Deep Medical and co-designed with NHS clinical input, the system analyses algorithms and anonymised data and external factors to predict and address potential missed appointments, arranging them at times convenient for patients.

The software’s intelligent scheduling includes evening and weekend slots and implements back-up bookings to optimise clinical time.

The NHS’ adoption of AI and other technological innovations is part of a broader effort to recover elective care services post-pandemic and reduce the backlog of patients awaiting routine procedures.

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By reducing the numbers of missed appointments each month, the NHS aims to use clinical time more effectively and expedite patient care.

The University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust is using AI to help enhance patient care through ‘process mining’.

By adjusting the timing of appointment reminders, the UHCW NHS Trust saw missed appointments fall from 10% to 4% in a targeted patient group.

NHS England Transformation national director Dr Vin Diwakar said: “Not only can these technologies help to free up doctors’ time to treat more patients and reduce waiting times for planned care, it means a significant amount of money can be invested in frontline care rather than lost to missed appointments.

“And the work being done across the country through these AI pilots shows that initiatives like this can deliver results in a short period of time, while also supporting patients to take control over their own care and help to better understand and reduce health inequalities.”