CRDAMC rolls out text message appointment reminder program
December 14, 2011
As a child, a day seems like an eternity, but as adults' days go by in a blink of an eye and by the end of the day, we ask ourselves; what did I forget to do today?
For many, a doctor's appointment booked three weeks ago is an easy thing to forget, and sometimes a sticky note on the fridge is not enough to remember. Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center believes text messaging is the key to help patients remember appointments.
"It's hard to find a Soldier today that does not have a cell phone on them at all times," said Kim Reed, Chief of Patient Services at CRDAMC. "By providing patients with an appointment reminder service through text messaging and email, we feel confident that patients will receive the message, and either attend the appointment or cancel if they can no longer make it," she said.
The Text-Email Appointment Messaging System or TEAMS allows patients to receive text messages and emails 24 hours and two hours prior to an appointment.
TEAMS is free for patients to sign up; however, text-messaging rates do apply. This program is optional. If a patient wants to receive text message appointment reminders they will need to fill out a form provided by staff at all appointment check-in desks. Once a patient signs up in one clinic, the appointment reminders are effective for any appointment throughout CRDAMC or the remote clinics.
Appointment reminders only provide the date and time of the appointment, along with the cancellation phone number which helps to ensure patient privacy.
To cancel, change, or request more information about an appointment the patient can simply touch the phone number in the text message, which will connect them to the CRDAMC appointment line at 254-288-8888. Once connected, a staff member will be happy to assist the patient.
CRDAMC hopes this service will help to reduce the number of appointment no-shows. During the past year, over 49,000 appointments were no-showed by patients which equates to over $3,724,000. Every no-show is an appointment that could have been allocated to another patient.
Many patients are willing to accept short-notice appointments due to last minute cancellations, so it's not an inconvenience to either the clinic or another patient. A simple call to CRDAMC to cancel an existing appointment and reschedule, benefits everyone.
"Access to care is always a primary concern here at CRDAMC, and by finding ways to lower the number of no-shows, we are hoping to open up access to care in all clinics," Reed said. "With more available appointments, we have happier patients," she said.
Over 1,000 Soldiers have already signed up for TEAMS during the test phase of this program and Soldiers are seeing the benefits that text messaging can provide.
"I would encourage Soldiers to sign up for the appointment text messaging service because Soldiers live by their phones," Staff Sgt. Douglas Sharper, of the 6th Squadron 9th Cavalry Regiment, said. "In today's Army, text messaging is very convenient for Soldiers, especially since they cannot always answer a phone call or have access to a computer during the day."
Col. Patrick Sargent, the CRDAMC commander, and his staff are continuously looking for suggestions and solutions to improve hospital efficiency and increase patient satisfaction, and he said text message and email appointment reminders are a service that benefits both the patients and the staff.
"CRDAMC wants to improve communication with patients," he said. "CRDAMC's Facebook, Twitter, internet Homepage and text-message appointment reminders are the next steps in that direction. I am excited to offer this new service because I believe it will improve our efficiency and communication with patients, and I think patients will realize this is a benefit too."
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