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


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.

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Correspondence to Dr J. Foley.

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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).

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  • Patient attendance
  • SMS
  • paediatric dentistry