Previous studies of appointment reminders among general pediatric patients have been done exclusively among low socioeconomic populations in clinics with low continuity of care and using block scheduling methods. This study of mailed computer-generated appointment reminders took place in a setting with patient demographics and practice techniques similar to those of many private pediatric practices. During a 6-month period, 901 appointments that were made more than 7 days prior to the scheduled date were randomly assigned to receive reminder postcards or to serve as controls. The overall broken appointment (no-show) rate was reduced from 19% in the control group to 10% in the reminder group, representing a 48% reduction (P = .0002). The magnitude of reduction of no-shows was similar for appointments scheduled more than 14 days prior to the appointment time (39%) as well as those scheduled more recently (58%). Equivalent results were seen with well-child appointments (47%) as with other visits (50%). Both lower and higher socioeconomic groups demonstrated similar results. The mailed postcards cost $0.20 each and were highly cost effective, generating an estimated $7.50 for each $1 spent during the study. With reductions similar to those found in this study, computer-generated appointment reminders are likely to be cost effective in other practices if current no-show rates are greater than 2% to 4%.
- Received June 4, 1990.
- Accepted November 26, 1990.
- Copyright © 1991 by the American Academy of Pediatrics