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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)

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

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13 C 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
  • ISSN: 0022-2151
  • EISSN: 1748-5460
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-laryngology-and-otology
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