How can providers convince patients to follow through with follow-up care? Ensuring that patients adhere to medical advice, like taking medication on time or attending all necessary appointments, can result in better health outcomes for patients and decreased costs for providers. On the other hand, appointment no shows or patients who don’t adhere to treatment can lead to long term problems, including poor chronic disease management, missed opportunities for early detection of health conditions, and overall increased cost of care.

As providers strive to deliver high quality care and improve patient health outcomes, providers should also consider how to improve patient adherence. This can mean hiring staff focused on personalized care or providing copay assistance for patients who may otherwise be unable to afford their visits.

But the number one reason patients fail to show up to appointments is simply due to forgetting they had an appointment scheduled. Automated phone reminders by text or call are an efficient and cost-effective tool to promote appointment adherence as well as adherence to other areas of follow-up care. Several studies demonstrate the effectiveness of text message reminders, especially across multiple demographics of patients and even in resource-limited settings. Here are just a few examples:

  • Text message reminders were shown to improve rates of second dosages of the flu vaccine in an urban clinic that served Latino patients aged 6 months to 8 years old living in a low-income area.
  • Text message reminders were shown to improve Depo-Provera injection adherence in urban adolescents.
  • Over half of participants receiving weekly text message reminders achieved 90% adherence to antiretroviral treatment in a study in rural Kenya.

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