The Journal of Laryngology & Otology

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Patient mobile telephone ‘text’ reminder: a novel way to reduce non-attendance at the ENT out-patient clinic

M Geraghtya1 c1, F Glynna1, M Amina1 and J Kinsellaa1

a1 Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Adelaide and Meath and The National Children's Hospital, Tallaght, Dublin, Ireland


Background: 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.

Objective: To audit non-attendance rates at ENT out-patient clinics following the introduction of a text reminder system.

Study design: Retrospective review.

Methods: 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.

Results: 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.

Conclusion: Sending text message reminders is a simple and cost-effective way to improve non-attendance at ENT out-patient clinics.

(Accepted January 29 2007)

(Online publication May 01 2007)


c1 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:


Presented at the Irish Otolaryngology Society meeting, 8 October 2006, Cavan, Ireland.

Mr M Geraghty takes responsibility for the integrity of the content of the paper.

Competing interests: None declared