It's the 21st century, and many of us tend to keep
pretty busy. With the stresses of all we do and the
constant need to be doing something else, it's understandable--yet
inconvenient--when commitments sometimes slip our minds;
after all, we're only human. Yet we'd surely rather
avoid the stress and hassle of a missed appointment.
With the popularity of SMS, this may be quite easily
Many of us have tried leaving ourselves notes or setting
alarms as reminders of appointments and meetings, with
varying degrees of efficacy, but what about reminder
texts? Scheduling text messages that remind you at opportune
times of commitments could be an easy and effective
way to help us avoid forgetting them. Reminder texts
can also be a great alternative to the reminder mailings
or phone calls many practices use to confirm appointments.
With the popularity and widespread use that text messaging
enjoys, one reason that reminder texts may be a smart
solution is simply that we're more or less guaranteed
not to miss them. Most of us keep our phones on us the
vast majority of the time, and just about all of us
read, or at least check, our incoming text messages.
There's hardly the risk of not noticing the note you
left yourself last night to remind yourself of that
It helps that texting is rising as the clear favorite
mode of communication among a hefty portion of the population.
In a study conducted by Gallup in September of 2014,
texting was reported as the most frequently used medium
of communication over phone calls and emails by participants
aged 18 to 49, with 68% of participants aged 18 to 29
sending or reading texts "a lot" the previous day, and
47% of participants aged 30 to 49 doing the same. Even
26% of 50- to 64-year-old participants reported sending
or reading texts "a lot" the day before the survey,
making texting the third favorite in the age group,
behind mobile phone calls and emails.
In short, texting is rising among several generations
as a preferred, or at least well-liked, medium, making
it easy to reach a large proportion of the population
via text. The numbers point to the great potential efficacy
of text message reminders to reach people and remind
them of their commitments.
Another benefit is that texting creates a record in
the form of automatically saved texts. If you receive
a reminder text message with appointment details, you
can check the text later to confirm details like times,
dates, addresses, and names. And seeing a reminder text
sitting in our inbox as we text others throughout the
day can itself constitute a helpful reminder of upcoming
Text messaging is also a fairly non-intrusive medium
for a reminder. As opposed to a phone call, a text takes
less time to read, and interrupts the day with only
a vibration or notification tone. A text message also
does not demand immediate attention, or a call back
when a confirmation call goes to voicemail. For the
chronically busy, these features of the text message
reminder a great edge over more conventional modes of
For practices that send reminder or confirmation notices
for appointments, this brevity and simplicity is also
a boon. Professional offices like those of health care
providers can schedule automated appointment reminders,
saving them the tedious work and labor hours, and thus
continuous expenses, of individual phone calls to confirm
If you weren't convinced, a study conducted by Krishnan
Narasimhan, M.D., at the Howard University College of
Medicine in 2013 shows empirically that reminder texts
are an effective, and cost-effective, mode of reminding
people of and confirming their commitments. Four randomized
and controlled trials, in total involving 3,547 participants
with a mean age between 33 and 57, were analyzed. Text
message reminders were just as effective as phone call
reminders, but were shown by two studies to cost only
55 to 65% as much as phone call reminders.
The efficacy and cost reduction presented by texting
as a vehicle for reminders, combined with the medium's
other conveniences, makes it a powerful tool available
to help professionals and forgetful folks alike. Could
texting be the future of patient-practice communication?
I suppose we'll find out.
About the Author -
Sharon Housley is the VP of Marketing for NotePage,
Inc. a software company for communication software solutions.