Texting Appointment Reminders

Missed appointments cost the healthcare system money

(RxWiki News) Missed doctor’s appointments cost money and result in patients not getting their health care. Text message reminders are a cheap way to help people get to their appointments.

A recent study in the UK sent patients text messages to remind patients of their scheduled doctor’s appointments.

The results found a 9-10 percent reduction in missed doctor’s appointments when a simple text reminder was distributed.

"Ask your doctor if they have an appointment reminder system."

Hannah Sims, MSc, and Harpreet Sanghara, MSc, from the Department of Psychosis Studies at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College in London, UK, led an investigation into using text message reminders for patients with schizophrenia.

For the study, researchers looked at the following groups of outpatients: 648 patients in 2008, 1,081 patients in 2009 and 1,088 patients in 2010.

The 2008 patients were used as controls and not contacted with a text message. In 2009, each of the patients was contacted with a text message appointment reminder seven and five days before every appointment.

In 2010, each of the patients was contacted with a text message appointment reminder seven and three days before every appointment.

Results of the study showed that patients missed 36 percent of appointments in 2008, 26 percent of appointments in 2009 and 27 percent of appointments in 2010.

Sending appointment reminder texts is a simple and cost-effective way to lower the rate of missed appointment.

Missed mental health appointments account for over $200 million every year in the UK health system.

Contributing Expert, Adam Powell, PhD, said, “This observational study provides yet another piece of support for the assertion that text message reminders are effective at improving the quality of care that patients receive.”

“Text message reminders are a wonderful way to reduce the cost of healthcare, as they reduce the amount of time medical professionals waste due to no-shows.”

This study was published in February in Psychiatric Services. No financial information was given and no conflicts of interest were found.

Review Date: 
August 27, 2012