For young children — especially infants — preventive care is critical. Different from acute, or sick visits, during routine well-child visits a child’s pediatrician will track important milestones in growth and development, and offer immunizations. In fact, a child should have around 15 well child visits by the time they turn 3, but far too often, parents forget to bring their children in for these critical appointments.
A small team at Park Nicollet in Minnesota set out to change this.
Their idea was simple: Send text message reminders to encourage parents to schedule well-child appointments. Consider: A whopping 91% of adults own a cell phone, most of us have our cell phones with us at least 22 hours out of every day and texting is the number one cell phone activity – 81% of adults do it. Text messages are an immediate form of communication, and most messages are read within three minutes and responded to within 15 minutes. This far outpaces other traditional means of communication, such as emails and voice mail.
Their result? The first text messages started reaching parents of 0 to 3-year-olds in early January of this year. To date, the team has seen a 71% conversion rate – meaning more than 547 parents have scheduled well child visits after the reminder, out of 772 text messages sent.
This work is part of a larger, concentrated effort at the health care system -- and nationwide. Park Nicollet follows the best practices of Bright Futures, an American Academy of Pediatrics initiative based on forming a trusting great relationship between the health professional, child, family and community as partners in health. A robust “recall and reminder” system is a critical component of the Bright Futures initiative.