Background DNA rates in sexual health and HIV clinics have historically been high and this can reduce the ability of the clinic to see patients within the UK national target of two working days. The availability of technology such as SMS texting allows appointment reminders to be readily sent just prior to the appointment.
Objectives To measure the impact of the SMS text appointment reminders on the DNA rates in a clinic providing sexual health and HIV appointments.
Methods DNA rates were measured for two 2-month periods before (2009) and after (2012) the introduction of routine SMS text reminders being sent to patients who have pre-booked appointments. Texts were sent two working days before the booked appointments.
Results Overall, after the introduction of SMS text appointment reminders, the DNA rates fell by 35% from 203/768 (26%) to 119/699 (17%), P < 0.0001. The fall was especially large for male sexual health appointments: 56/200(28%) vs 24/165 (15%), P < 0.004 a fall of 46%. Female sexual health DNA rates also fell: 69/302(23%) vs 43/273(16%), P < 0.02, a fall of 30%, as did DNA rates for HIV clinics: 78/266(29%) vs 52/261(20%), P < 0.001, a fall of 31%
Conclusions SMS texts sent to patients two days before a booked appointment reduced the DNA rate by an average of one in three. The decrease was especially large for male patient appointments. Routine text reminders for appointments are an effective way of ensuring that the clinic runs efficiently.