Use of Mobile Telephone Short Message Service (SMS) as a Reminder: the Effect on Patient Attendance

Abstract

AIM: To evaluate the operational and financial efficacy of sending short message service (SMS) mobile telephone text message to patients with outpatient clinic appointments. STUDY DESIGN: Patients scheduled to attend an outpatient appointment at the Dept. Paediatric Dentistry, Edinburgh Dental Institute, Scotland, during October 2007 and who had mobile telephone contact details were sent a reminder SMS text 24hr prior to their appointment. An historical control group were selected from October 2006. RESULTS: Data were available for 276 (F: 146; M: 130) and 433 (F: 228; M: 205) patient attendances during 2006 and 2007 respectively. Overall, 10.4% and 23.9% of the SMS and historical group failed to attend (FTA) respectively and the difference was statistically significant (Chi Square = 6.95, p = 0.008, 1 d.f). There was a reduction in the FTA rate for the specialist paediatric staff dentists from 29.2% to 24.4% for 2006 and 2007 respectively. The cost of sending text messages was £28.15 (approx. €0) for October 2007. CONCLUSIONS: The use of SMS text messages as a reminder may reduce the failure to attend rate for outpatient paediatric dental appointments.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Atun AR, Mohan A. Uses and Benefits of SMS in Healthcare Delivery. Centre for Health Management. Tanaka Business School. Imperial College, London 2005.

  2. Bos A, Hoogstraten J, Prahl-Andersen B. Failed appointments in an orthodontic clinic. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 2005;127:355–357.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Developing Patient Partnerships. Public and practices unite against missed appointments, 2007. http://www.dpp.org.uk/en/1/missedappointments.qxml

  4. Downer SR, Meara JG, Da Costa AC. Use of SMS text messaging to improve outpatient attendance. Med J Aust 2005;183:366–368.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Downer SR, Meara JG, Da Costa AC, Sethuraman K. SMS text messaging improves outpatient attendance. Aust Health Rev 2006;30:389–396.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Geraghty M, Glynn F, Amin M, Kinsella J. Patient mobile telephone ‘text’ reminder: a novel way to reduce non-attendance at the ENT out-patient clinic. J Laryngol Otol 2008;122:296–298.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Hashim MJ, Franks P, Fiscella K. Effectiveness of telephone reminders in improving rate of appointments kept at an outpatient clinic: a randomized controlled trial. J Am Board Fam Pract 2001;14:193–196.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Karter AJ, Parker MM, Moffet HH, et al. Missed appointments and poor glycemic control: an opportunity to identify high-risk diabetic patients. Med Care 2004;42:110–115.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Lee CS, McCormick PA. Telephone reminders to reduce non-attendance rate for endoscopy. J R Soc Med 2003;96:547–548.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Lieu TA, Capra AM, Makol J, Black SB, Shinefield HR. Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of letters, automated telephone messages, or both for underimmunized children in a health maintenance organization. Pediatrics 1998;101: E3.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Murray M. Patient care: access. Br Med J 2000;320:1594–1596.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Reti S. Improving outpatient department efficiency: a randomized controlled trial comparing hospital and general-practice telephone reminders. N Z Med J 2003;116: U458.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Richardson A. Failed appointments in an academic orthodontic clinic. Br Dent J 1998;184:612–615.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Sawyer SM, Zalan A, Bond LM. Telephone reminders improve adolescent clinic attendance: a randomized controlled trial. J Paediatr Child Health 2002;38:79–83.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Self A. Office for National Statistics. Social Trends, 2007. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_social/Social_Trends37/Social_ Trends_37.pdf. The Mobile Data Association (online). Latest Text and Mobile Internet Page Impression Statistics. http://www.themda.org/PressReleases/Page_Press_PressReleases_LatestStats.asp (2006)

  16. Tierney CD, Yusuf H, McMahon SR, et al. Adoption of reminder and recall messages for immunizations by pediatricians and public health clinics. Pediatrics 2003;112:1076–1082.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Trenouth MJ, Hough A. Reasons for broken and canceled appointments in a British orthodontic clinic. J Clin Orthod 1991; 25:115–120.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dr J. Foley.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Foley, J., O’Neill, M. Use of Mobile Telephone Short Message Service (SMS) as a Reminder: the Effect on Patient Attendance. Eur Arch Paediatr Dent 10, 15–18 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03262661

Download citation

Keywords

  • Patient attendance
  • SMS
  • paediatric dentistry