Patient preferences and access to text messaging for health care reminders in a safety-net setting

Inform Health Soc Care. 2017 Jan;42(1):32-42. doi: 10.3109/17538157.2015.1113177. Epub 2016 Feb 11.


Introduction: Text messaging may be an effective method for providing health care reminders to patients. We aimed to understand patient access to and preferences for receiving health-related reminders via text message among patients receiving care in safety-net hospitals.

Materials and methods: We conducted face-to-face surveys with 793 patients seeking care in three hospital emergency departments at a large safety-net institution and determined clinical and demographic predictors of preferences for text messaging for health care reminders.

Results: 95% of respondents reported having daily access to text messaging. Text messaging was preferred over e-mail, phone, and letters for communication. 78% of respondents wanted to receive appointment reminders, 56% wanted expiring insurance reminders, and 36% wanted reminders to take their medications. We found no clinical predictors but did find some demographic predictors-including age, ethnicity, insurance status, and income-of wanting text message reminders.

Discussion: In our convenience sample of safety-net patients, text messaging is an accessible, acceptable, and patient-preferred modality for receiving health care reminders. Text messaging may be a promising patient-centered approach for providing health care and insurance reminders to patients seeking care at safety-net institutions.

Keywords: Patient preferences; safety-net; text messaging.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage / statistics & numerical data
  • Insurance, Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Preference / statistics & numerical data*
  • Reminder Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Safety-net Providers / methods*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Text Messaging*
  • Young Adult