Use of mobile telephone short message service as a reminder: the effect on patient attendance

Int Dent J. 2012 Feb;62(1):21-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1875-595X.2011.00081.x.


Background: Nonattendance for hospital outpatient appointments is a major burden on healthcare systems and the estimated financial loss can be high. Various reasons for patients not attending have been reported, including the patient/carer forgetting the appointment and confusion over the date and time of the appointment. Various reminder systems have been trialled across a variety of clinical settings. More recently, short message service (SMS) text messaging has emerged as a viable approach for delivering reminders to outpatients at a relatively low cost.

Aims and objectives: To evaluate the effect of appointment reminders, sent as SMS text messages to patients' mobile telephones, on attendance at outpatient clinics at the ITS Centre for Dental Studies and Research (ITS-CDSR), Muradnagar, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Materials and methods: The study was conducted at ITS-CDSR in the Departments of Prosthodontics, Endodontics, Orthodontics and Paedodontics. Patients attending these departments for a period of 4 months and those who had provided a contact mobile number were sent an SMS reminder.

Results: In this study, 206 subjects (male, 124; female, 82) participated, 96 (male, 57; female, 39) of whom were in the test group and 110 (male, 67; female, 43) of whom were in the control group. The rate of attendance on time was found to be significantly higher in the test group (79.2%) than in the control group (35.5%).

Conclusion: The study results indicate that sending appointment reminders as text messages to patients is an effective strategy to reduce nonattendance rates.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Dental Clinics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Reminder Systems*
  • Text Messaging*