NHS Highland adopts SMS reminders

A scheme that saw text messages used to drive down the number of missed dental appointments in Lochshell will soon be rolled out across the entire Scottish Highlands.

Between June and December 2013, the Lochshell Dental Clinic in Wick lost some 253 hours of clinical time through patients failing to show up for their appointments. Realising that no-shows are inherently preventable, the practice opted for text reminders to inform patients of upcoming appointments about which they may have forgotten, nhshighland.scot.nhs.uk notes.

Although the clinic noted that no-shows haven’t noticeably decreased, automating text messages meant that staff members had more of their time freed up to do other things – instead of calling patients manually to remind them.

This success alone was enough for the scheme to be rolled out across the entire NHS Highlands area, which will include a further 23 practices utilising text reminder services. This correlates with wider good practice guidelines in use across all of Scotland, which has outlined text messages as being a useful tool for communicating with patients.

Commenting on the development, NHS Highland dental manager Alex Fraser told pressandjournal.co.uk: “Although some independent contractor dental practices already offer this service to patients, it is not something that is mandatory. However, it does make sense to help patients with reminders while ensuring that the time of dental teams is not wasted.”