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U Have Appt Tues 8:30

January 7, 2010
by kate
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In today’s technology-obsessed world, there’s nothing groundbreaking about text message reminders. But in healthcare, which traditionally lags behind in terms of adoption (check-in kiosks, social media, etc), the technology has been used sparingly.

One organization, however, hopes to change that. Kaiser Permanente, the galactic health system located in Oakland, Calif., is going live with text message (SMS) appointment reminders after a successful pilot program with mobileStorm, according to mobihealthnews. The trial resulted in reduced costs and improved patient care, prompting Kaiser to roll out the program nationally.

And it’s not just appointments — the SMS platform also supports treatment reminders and alerts to lab results. If Kaiser continues to see positive results, I believe this trend could take off in the next year, particularly since it seems relatively simple to implement and inexpensive, at least compared with other IT roll-outs.

If you look at the lessons learned from Kaiser’s pilot (which were announced at last year’s mHealth conference, as reported here by Brian Dolan), there are some interesting findings that can benefit other organizations that are thinking about taking the SMS plunge. For example:

· Generic appointment reminders were more effective than specific ones

· Females were more likely to opt-out than males

· Patients aged 13 to 17 years old and 18 to 24 years old have the highest opt-out rate probably because they know how to opt-out.

After working through some of the bugs (like determining whether phone numbers were valid and ensuring that marketing messages weren’t attached to reminders), Kaiser is moving forward with a program that can change the face of patient care.

Will more health systems jump on board with this soon?

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Comments

Very cool article on the new system at Kaiser Permanente, the true value of SMS technology in healthcare is just beginning to be realized. At Globaltel Media we've tailored our SMS-based messaging solutions to be used for a variety of healthcare related activities, from sharing information between doctors, to appointment scheduling/reminders, to rehabilitation demos sent via mobile video. It's always encouraging to see providers implement these types of programs, as it reaffirms the value of the technology in the space. Thanks for the article!

Kate, I'd love to hear a more elaborate report from HCI about Kaisers "complex opt-in, opt-out" policy described in your second link. Even with physician's receiving clinical decision support messaging, my clients have observed that offering opt-in is a powerful, effective path to adoption. The cost of an SMS message to patients (as described in the article) makes it clear that opt-out is required. Fascinating post. Thank you.

kate

Kate Huvane, Associate Editor of...