Vanderbilt Medical Group (VMG) is a clinic based in Nasvhille, Tennesse. In the past years, they have utilized the use of robocalls to remind patients of their clinic appointments. These pre-recorded calls are triggered four days before the set appointment. Approximately seven percent of the responses to these calls result to cancellations. Sixty percent of the appointment cancellations are able to be filled up and replaced by VMG within the four-day mark. This has been the group’s practice until just recently when they started sending out text message reminders instead of automated calls.
Compliance with taking medications and showing up in pre-set doctor’s appointments has long been problematic for physicians. Not only does this compromise the medical plan and management for the patient, but also adds up to the losses that a private medical practice shoulders. Although there may be varied reasons for patients not to show up in their doctor visits, one of the common is simply forgetting the meeting. In this case, a reminder of an upcoming appointment may prove to be very helpful.
Last September, appointment specialists from VMG rolled out a health informatics study and started conducting surveys where patients are asked whether they would prefer an SMS to be sent to them as a reminder instead of receiving pre-recorded robotic messages. Other promotional materials and paraphernalia including flyers were also displayed in VMG clinics to be able to disseminate this new option effectively.
The survey resulted to a positive feedback from the patients. Text messages are now currently being used in 25% of the reminders being sent out by clinics.
Paul Schmitz, administrative director of VMG capacity management stated in a VMG news release that with this new method of reminding the patients, the group receives responses for 50% of the sent messages as compared with just about 30% with the previous method of sending pre-recorded messages. Not only does this result to more improved back filing of cancelled appointments, it also decreased the patients who do not show up for an appointment by 50%.