What makes for a good text reminder?

Increasingly, health providers will text us a reminder ahead of our appointments to help us remember them. We like these reminders, but do we always get all the information we need?
Smiling lady in a headscarf holding up a smartphone
When I get texted an appointment reminder I can get confused because I'm having more than one condition treated at the hospital. The text doesn't say whether the appointment is for arthritis or for ophthalmology.

We've heard a lot of feedback about text reminders over the last year. We learnt that text reminders can be the first that people hear about having an appointment, in cases where appointment letters go missing or arrive too late. Text reminders are valued, but there is inconsistency between providers in terms of the amount of information they include.

  • A good text reminder needs to name the person who has the appointment: ‘One mobile can be receiving text messages for more than one member of the family. If you have three children then who is the reminder for?'
  • The text needs to say which clinic you need to go to. This is particularly important for hospital appointments. These buildings are huge and difficult for some patients to navigate.

Here's one example of a text reminder that we think is pretty good. It's from Whittington Health. The person is named. It is clear what type of treatment the appointment relates to, and the location of the clinic is specified. They've also made it easy to cancel. According to the NHS, on average each missed appointment costs them £131, and prevents other patients from being seen.

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Which providers are good at sending out texts? What other information would you like to see in text reminders?

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