Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
JCMVAMC Now Using Text Message Notifications
With the prevalent use of cell phones in society today, hospitals and doctor’s offices are now using text message notifications to contact patients and remind them of upcoming appointments.
In August, the Behavioral Medicine Service at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center (JCMVAMC) began using text messaging as a new method to contact Veterans.
When a Veteran checks into one of the three JCMVAMC Mental Health clinics for an appointment, they are asked by a staff member if they want to sign up for text message notifications.
Dr. Beth Jeffries, a VA psychologist, said text messaging is not only convenient for Veterans but will also help VA decrease patient no-shows.
“Obviously we’re trying to keep our no show rate as low as possible,” said Jeffries. “But we’re also trying to make it convenient for the Veterans and to use a medium they actually like and they actually use.”
While all Veterans are eligible to receive the notifications, Jeffries said she believes younger Veterans might be more receptive to receiving notifications.
“Not to generalize or stereotype, but obviously the younger generation is much more acclimated to using a cell phone,” said Jeffries. “It’s so much a part of their life. They seem to be the ones who are a little bit more comfortable with it, but we’re certainly not excluding anyone that wants to be notified by text message.”
To ensure text messaging doesn’t compromise the Veteran’s privacy, notifications are generic and do not contain personally identifiable information.
“We don’t identify the patient by name and we don’t identify the doctor or the clinic,” said Jeffries. “We just use a very generic message. Then maybe that will spark the Veteran and remind them that they do have an appointment. If they’re not sure, they can contact us back.”
Jeffries said feedback from Veterans has so far been very positive.
“There’s almost a surprise element to it,” she said. “They can’t believe we’re doing that now so I think that’s really good. It’s really working out great. The Veterans love it and we’ve had absolutely zero complaints.”