Mobile phone messaging reminders for attendance at healthcare appointments.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Dec 05CD
This review is an update of the original Cochrane review published in July 2012. Missed appointments are a major cause of inefficiency in healthcare delivery with substantial monetary costs for the health system, leading to delays in diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Patients' forgetfulness is one of the main reasons for missed appointments. Patient reminders may help reduce missed appointments. Modes of communicating reminders for appointments to patients include face-to-face communication, postal messages, calls to landlines or mobile phones, and mobile phone messaging. Mobile phone messaging applications, such as Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Message Service (MMS), could provide an important, inexpensive delivery medium for reminders for healthcare appointments.
To update our review assessing the effects of mobile phone messaging reminders for attendance at healthcare appointments. Secondary objectives include assessment of costs; health outcomes; patients' and healthcare providers' evaluation of the intervention and perceptions of safety; and possible harms and adverse effects associated with the intervention.
Original searches were run in June 2009. For this update, we searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL,The Cochrane Library 2012, Issue 8), MEDLINE (OvidSP) (January 1993 to August 2012), EMBASE (OvidSP) (January 1993 to August 2012), PsycINFO (OvidSP) (January 1993 to August 2012) and CINAHL (EbscoHOST) (January 1993 to August 2012). We also reviewed grey literature (including trial registers) and reference lists of articles.
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) assessing mobile phone messaging as reminders for healthcare appointments. We only included studies in which it was possible to assess effects of mobile phone messaging independent of other technologies or interventions.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
Two review authors independently assessed all studies against the inclusion criteria, with any disagreements resolved by a third review author. Study design features, characteristics of target populations, interventions and controls, and results data were extracted by two review authors and confirmed by a third author. Two authors assessed the risk of bias of the included studies. As the intervention characteristics and outcome measures were similar across included studies, we conducted a meta-analysis to estimate an overall effect size.
We included eight randomised controlled trials involving 6615 participants. Four of these studies were newly identified during this update.We found moderate quality evidence from seven studies (5841 participants) that mobile text message reminders improved the rate of attendance at healthcare appointments compared to no reminders (risk ratio (RR) 1.14 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.03 to 1.26)). There was also moderate quality evidence from three studies (2509 participants) that mobile text message reminders had a similar impact to phone call reminders (RR 0.99 (95% CI 0.95 to 1.02). Low quality evidence from one study (291 participants) suggests that mobile text message reminders combined with postal reminders improved the rate of attendance at healthcare appointments compared to postal reminders alone (RR 1.10 (95% CI 1.02 to 1.19)). Overall, the attendance to appointment rates were 67.8% for the no reminders group, 78.6% for the mobile phone messaging reminders group and 80.3% for the phone call reminders group. One study reported generally that there were no adverse effects during the study period; none of the studies reported in detail on specific adverse events such as loss of privacy, data misinterpretation, or message delivery failure. Two studies reported that the costs per text message per attendance were respectively 55% and 65% lower than costs per phone call reminder. The studies included in the review did not report on health outcomes or people's perceptions of safety related to receiving reminders by text message.