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Patient mobile telephone ‘text’ reminder: a novel way to reduce non-attendance at the ENT out-patient clinic

  • M Geraghty (a1), F Glynn (a1), M Amin (a1) and J Kinsella (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 May 2007

Non-attendance at out-patient clinics is a seemingly intractable problem, estimated to cost £65 (€97) per incident. This results in under-utilisation of resources and prolonged waiting lists. In an effort to reduce out-patient clinic non-attendance, our ENT department, in conjunction with the information and communication technology department, instigated the use of a mobile telephone short message service (‘text’) reminder, to be sent out to each patient three days prior to their out-patient clinic appointment.


To audit non-attendance rates at ENT out-patient clinics following the introduction of a text reminder system.

Study design:

Retrospective review.


Non-attendance at our institution's ENT out-patient clinics was audited, following introduction of a text message reminder system in August 2003. Rates of non-attendance were compared for the text message reminder group and a historical control group.


Before the introduction of the text message reminder system, the mean rate of non-attendance was 33.6 per cent. Following the introduction of the system, the mean rate of non-attendance reduced to 22 per cent.


Sending text message reminders is a simple and cost-effective way to improve non-attendance at ENT out-patient clinics.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Mr M Geraghty, Department of Surgery, Adelaide and Meath and The National Children's Hospital, Tallaght, Dublin 24, Ireland. Fax: 00 353 1 4143359 E-mail:
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Presented at the Irish Otolaryngology Society meeting, 8 October 2006, Cavan, Ireland.

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1A Karter , M Parker , H Moffet , A Ahmed , A Ferrara , J Liu Missed appointments and poor glycemic control: an opportunity to identify high-risk diabetic patients. Med Care 2004;42:110–15

2S Sawyer , A Zalan , L Bond Telephone reminders improve adolescent clinic attendance: a randomized controlled trial. J Paediatr Child Health 2002;38:7983

4J Collins , N Santamaria , L Clayton . Why outpatients fail to attend their scheduled appointments: a prospective comparison of differences between attenders and non-attenders. Aus Health Rev 2003;26:5263

5F Dockery , C Rajkumar , C Chapman , C Bulpitt , C Nicholl . The effect of reminder calls in reducing non-attendance rates at care of the elderly clinics. Postgrad Med J 2001;77:37–9

6T Lieu , S Black , P Ray . Computer-generated recall letters for underimmunized children: how cost-effective? Paed Infect Dis J 1997;16:2833

7D Reekie , H Devlin . Preventing failed appointments in general dental practice: a comparison of reminder methods. Br Dent J 1998;185:472–4

8G Brien , R Lazebnik . Telephone call reminder and attendance in an adolescent clinic. Paediatrics 1998;101:E6

13C Martin , T Perfect , G Mantle . Non-attendance in primary care: the views of patients and practices on its causes, impact and solutions. Fam Pract 2005;22:638–43

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The Journal of Laryngology & Otology
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