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Improving attendance at a regional hepatitis clinic in Northern Ireland: Is SMS the answer?

Authors

O Devlin, A McCurley, WJ Cash, NI McDougall

Departments / Institutions

O Devlin, A McCurley, WJ Cash, NI McDougall

Publication Date

Autumn 2014

Introduction

‘Did not attend’ (DNA) rates at viral hepatitis clinics are notoriously high and at our clinic have been as high as 36% (Aug 2013). The use of short message service or texting (SMS) reminders has been proposed as a solution.

Aims

To audit the use of SMS reminders as a means of reducing clinic DNA rates

Methods

DNA rates were monitored from Jan-Sept 2013, this was used as control data for comparison. In Jan 2014 we introduced a text message reminder service and the subsequent DNA rate was monitored. Questionnaires and random sampling (to confirm accuracy of mobile numbers held on PAS) were used to obtain patient feedback on texting.

Results

The DNA rate from January-September 2013 was 27% (standard clinic had 45-50 appointments booked). After implementation of SMS reminders, the DNA rate was 25% for Jan 2014. A questionnaire in early 2014 of 113 patients showed that 57% did not receive a text reminder. Subsequent clinic visits were used to actively update mobile numbers with improvement in DNA rates reaching 7% in April 2014. Overall DNA rate with SMS improved to 22% in the period January-September 2014. In September 2014, sampling of those who attended revealed we had the correct mobile number for 94% with one patient having changed their number but not notifying the hospital.

Conclusion

SMS technology is an effective means of improving clinic attendance rates. However hospital data on mobile numbers is frequently outdated and needs to be actively managed if it is to be used for SMS clinic reminders.


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