How Spillovers from Appointment Reminders Improve Health Clinic Efficiency

40 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2020 Last revised: 18 Jun 2022

See all articles by Claire Boone

Claire Boone

University of California, Berkeley

Pablo A. Celhay

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Paul J. Gertler

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Tadeja Gracner

RAND Corporation

Josefina Rodriguez

Ministry of Finance, Chile

Date Written: December 2020

Abstract

Missed clinic appointments present a significant burden to health care through disruption of care, inefficient use of staff time and wasted clinical resources. Short message service (SMS) appointment reminders show promise to improve clinics’ management through timely appointment cancellations and efficient re-scheduling, but evidence from large-scale interventions is missing. We study a nationwide SMS appointment reminder program in Chile for chronic disease patients at public primary care clinics. Using longitudinal clinic-level data we find that after two years the program increased clinics’ total number of visits per by 5.1% on average. The program did not change the number of visits by chronic patients eligible to receive the reminder, but it instead increased visits by other patients, ineligible to receive reminders in clinics that adopted the program by 7.4% on average. These results suggest that the appointment reminder systems increased clinics’ ability to care for more patients through timely cancellations and re-scheduling.

Suggested Citation

Boone, Claire and Celhay, Pablo A. and Gertler, Paul J. and Gracner, Tadeja and Rodriguez, Josefina, How Spillovers from Appointment Reminders Improve Health Clinic Efficiency (December 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w28166, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3743899

Claire Boone (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Pablo A. Celhay

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile ( email )

Av Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins 340
Santiago, Región Metropolitana 8331150
Chile

Paul J. Gertler

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-642-1418 (Phone)
510-642-4700 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Tadeja Gracner

RAND Corporation

Josefina Rodriguez

Ministry of Finance, Chile

Teatinos 120
Santiago, 8340487
Chile

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