Can Text Messages Improve Attendance to Primary Care Appointments in Underserved Populations?


We explored whether text message (TM) reminders could be used at a community health center (CHC) to improve primary care appointment attendance in adult patients. Over six months, we allocated 8,425 appointments to intervention and 2,679 to control. The proportion of no-shows in the intervention was 18.0% vs. 19.8% in control (p = .106). Among intervention appointments, 1,431 did not have a cell phone, 4,955 did not respond to the consent TM, and 231 declined TMs. The proportion of no-shows for the 1,309 appointments who received TM was 13.7% compared with 20.2% in a matched control group (p = .001). However, of 81 surveyed patients who did not respond to the consent TM, 64 (93%) wished to receive TMs. In conclusion, patients who received TM demonstrated improved attendance to their appointments. TM might be an effective supplemental appointment reminder method in a subpopulation of CHC patients and it should be explored in future research.