Paediatrics and Child Health; Centre for Innovation in Medical Education
Background: Missing health care appointments without canceling in advance results in a no show, a vacant appointment slot that cannot be offered to others. No show can be reduced by reminding patients about their appointment in advance. In this regard, mobile health (mHealth) strategy is to use text messaging (short message service, SMS), which is available on all cellular phones, including cheap low-end handsets. Nonattendance for appointments in health care results in wasted resources and disturbs the planned work schedules.
Objectives: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of the current text messaging (SMS) and call-based reminder system and further explore how to improve the attendance at the pediatric outpatient clinics. The primary objectives are to (1) determine the efficacy of the current clinic appointment reminder service at pediatric outpatient clinics at Aga Khan University Hospital, (2) assess the mobile phone access and usage among caregivers visiting pediatrics consultant clinics, and (3) explore the perception and barriers of parents regarding the current clinic appointment reminder service at the pediatric outpatient clinics at Aga Khan University Hospital.
Methods: The study uses a mixed-method design that consists of 3 components: (1) retrospective study (component A) which aims to determine the efficacy of text messaging (SMS) and phone call–based reminder service on patient’s clinic attendance during January to June 2017 (N=58,517); (2) quantitative (component B) in which a baseline survey will be conducted to assess the mobile phone access and usage among parents/caregivers of children visiting pediatrics consultant clinics (n=300); and (3) qualitative (component C) includes in-depth interviews and focus group discussion with parents/caregivers of children visiting the pediatric consultancy clinic and with health care providers and administrative staff. Main constructs will be to explore perceptions and barriers related to existing clinic appointment reminder service. Ethics approval has been obtained from the Ethical Review Committee, Aga Khan University, Pakistan (4770-Ped-ERC-17).
Results: Results will be disseminated to pediatric quality public health and mHealth communities through scientific meetings and through publications, nationally and internationally.
Conclusions: This study will provide insight regarding efficacy of using mHealth-based reminder services for patient’s appointments in low- and middle-income countries setup. The finding of this study will be used to recommend further enhanced mHealth-based solutions to improve patient appointments and decrease no show.
Publication (Name of Journal)
JMIR Research Protocols
(2018). Evaluating the effectiveness of text messaging and phone call reminders to minimize no show at pediatric outpatient clinics in Pakistan: protocol for a mixed-methods study. JMIR Research Protocols, 7(4), e91.
Available at: https://ecommons.aku.edu/pakistan_fhs_mc_women_childhealth_paediatr/331
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