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An SMS Appointment Reminder System for Prenatal Care in Urban Health Care Centers in the Philippines.
The Philippines is known as the Short Messaging System (SMS) or text-messaging capital of the world. Each day, about two billion SMS messages pass through the three main telecommunication networks in the country. SMS not only has benefits in maintaining communication among friends and family, but it can also have potential benefits in different sectors of society - one of which is healthcare. To take advantage of the country’s facility with SMS, the University of the Philippines Medical Informatics Unit (MIU) initiated the development of an open source SMS appointment reminder system for pregnant mothers attending urban health centers.
The application was tested in two health centers in Pasay City, Philippines. Initially, posters and handouts were provided as a marketing tool for the reminder system. Patients were then registered during their initial visit or subsequent follow-up appointment. On its first month of operation, 60 patients on initial consults and eight patients on follow-up visits were registered. Pregnant women, who registered for this service in their respective health center, receive two SMS reminders starting two days prior to a scheduled follow-up appointment. The health center personnel at the two centers sent SMS reminders using the MIU’s SMS gateway. Preliminary results showed that SMS reminders improved prenatal follow-up visit compliance. Subjective feedback was also positive. An SMS appointment reminder system seems to be a promising tool for increasing the compliance rate in prenatal follow-up appointments. Other applications planned for the future are: Direct-Observed Treatment Short-Course (DOTS) system for tuberculosis, Immunization programs for children, and dental visits.