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Why You Could Never Forget an Appointment Again, Thanks to Texting

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 done.

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 dental appointment.

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 commitments.

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 outreach.

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 upcoming appointments.

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. http://www.notepage.net

 


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