Potential impact of text message reminders on non-attendance at outpatient clinics

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Non-attendance at outpatient clinic leads to significant time wasting and inefficient use of resources.


To establish the magnitude of the problem of clinic non-attendance and to ascertain the potential impact of a simple strategy to reduce inefficiency in Irish healthcare.


The number of patients due to attend general surgical clinic in a single year was ascertained. Telephone questionnaire of 97 patients who failed to attend was performed. A survey of potential impact of text message reminder was conducted.


Appointments were sent to 18,362 patients. Of these, 31% (n = 5692) were new to clinic. The rate of non-attendance was 16.8% (n = 3085). Varied reasons were given for non-attendance. Text message reminder would encourage 51% of those surveyed to attend or cancel in advance.


The rate of non-attendance is 17%. A reminder would eradicate more than half of non-attendance, allowing significantly more new patients to be seen, translating to more efficient use of clinic time.

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